Can Dogs Spot Liars? New Study Says Yes, Canines Can Tell When People Are Trying To Fool Them

It has long been known that dogs can understand verbal commands as well as signals, reading human body language. They can understand when we point to something.

Recent research demonstrated that canines can even read the meaning of our facial expressions, as cited by the Huffington Post. A new study from Japan goes even further, suggesting that dogs can tell when a human is trying to dupe them.

Dr. Akiko Takaoka, a researcher at Kyoto University and a co-author of the study, told BBC News the following.

“Dogs have more sophisticated social intelligence than we thought. This social intelligence evolved selectively in their long life history with humans.”

The study was published on October 24, 2014 in the journal Animal Cognition,. The researchers tested 34 pet dogs as they interacted with a human and a pair of containers (one containing a food treat, the other container was empty).

According to BBC News, the team led by Akiko Takaoka of Kyoto University in Japan presented the dogs with three rounds of pointing.

In the first round, the experimenters accurately pointed to where food was hidden in a container. But in the second round, they pointed to an empty container. In the third round, the same experimenter again pointed to the container with food.

By the third round, the dog did not respond to the experimenter’s cue. According to Takaoka, that suggests that the dogs could use their experience with the experimenter to assess whether they were a reliable guide, as cited by BBC News.

This suggests that dogs can tell when we are trying to fool them and learn not to be too trusting after we have attempted to dupe them.

The researchers wrote the following in the abstract of the study, according to the Huffington Post.

“These results suggest that not only dogs are highly skilled at understanding human pointing gestures, but also they make inferences about the reliability of a human who presents cues and consequently modify their behavior flexibly depending on the inference.”

Takaoka stated that she was surprised that the dogs “devalued the reliability of a human” so quickly, stating the following, according to BBC News.

“Dogs have more sophisticated social intelligence than we thought. This social intelligence evolved selectively in their long life history with humans.”

Takaoka added that the next step will be to test closely related species such as wolves. This would then reveal the “profound effects of domestication” on the social intelligence of dogs.

John Bradshaw of the University of Bristol in the United Kingdon, who was not involved with the study, noted that the study highlights that dogs like things to be predictable. He stated that if canines consistently don’t know what’s going to happen next, they can get stressed, aggressive, or fearful. Bradshaw stated that “dogs whose owners are inconsistent to them often have behavioral disorders.” He said that “dogs are almost information junkies,” so a new experimenter is “trusted” once more.

Brian Hare, who is chief scientific officer at Dognition, also noted that dogs do not mindlessly listen to us. He stated the following, quoted by BBC News.

“They evaluate the information we give them based in part on how reliable it is in helping them accomplish their goals. Many family dogs, for instance, will ignore your gesture when you point incorrectly and use their memory to find a hidden treat.”

Other studies show that we have a very close relationship with our canines, who, though they may question us as found in the Japanese study, do view us as family, according to an article published in the Inquisitr. It was shown that puppy love is real and goes even deeper than just affection and loyalty. Scientists say that dogs actually view their owners as family.

[Photo Courtesy Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]