Diss a dog owner and you instantly earn yourself two enemies. A study conducted in Japan reveals that dogs indeed make social and emotional evaluations of people, an ability thought to only exists in very few species including humans and primates.
Led by Kazuo Fujita, the study used 18 different dogs and several strangers who the dogs have never met before. There were three groups in the study composed of a dog, two strangers and the dog owner.
In each group, the first stranger always takes a neutral position, then there’s a second stranger and then the dog owner.
They created several scenario in which the first and second stranger behaved towards the dog owner. The point of the study is to see how the dog would react to the strangers’ behavior.
In the first group, when the dog owner asked for help in opening a box, the second stranger helped. In the second group, the dog owner asked for help in opening the box but the second stranger refused to help.
And in the final group, the second stranger neither helped nor refused the dog owner’s request for help.