We all think are dogs are pretty smart, but what if we told you there was more going on inside that cute, furry head of theirs than you thought?
We already know that dogs are capable of understanding the words you say, feeling guilt and jealousy, and even making judgements based on their first impression of you. But now according to a new study published in the journal Animal Cognition, we also know that your dog can trick you in order to get what they want.
The groundbreaking study proving this theory was conducted by Marianne Heberlein from the University of Zürich. It all started one afternoon when she noticed her dogs stealing each others bed once the other dog was properly distracted. That strange behavior had Marianne wondering if dogs would also do this to humans.
For her experiment, she paired dogs with three companions — one that was willing to give treats (aka the cooperative partner), one who would only show the dog the treat but would keep it for themselves (the competitive partner), and the dog's owner who was instructed to always be cooperative.
The dogs were trained to lead one of the cooperative/competitive companions to a series of boxes — one that contained a juicy sausage, one with a standard dog treat, and one that was completely empty.
After going through the exercise a few times, the dogs ended up leading the withholding human to the empty box, knowing that if he led them to one of the other boxes they'd only get to see the treat and never eat it. They still had a chance to lead their owners to the tastier boxes afterwards and the deceptive doggies jumped at the chance.
This experiment shows the "dogs distinguished between the cooperative and the competitive partner, and indicate the flexibility of dogs to adjust their behavior and that they are able to use tactical deception"
So the next time we see someone with one of those "my dog is smarter than a 5th grader" bumper stickers, don't roll your eyes because they're probably right!
Does your pooch trick you for treats? Tell us about it in the comments section.