According to research, dogs can know when you’re lying to them. When researchers assessed whether dogs would heed advise from someone who was lying to them, they discovered that many of the canines chose to act contrary to the advice.
Think of an instance when you lied. Do you keep undiscovered chocolate in your room that your parents aren’t aware of? Or did you ever embellish your accomplishments for your friends? Most people have lied at some point in their lives. It might have been that we didn’t want to offend anyone’s sentiments or that we just didn’t want to deal with the repercussions of failing our tests.
It is impossible to escape all of those lies without getting discovered. Typically, this is only taken into account when harming another person, but what about animals? Have you ever wondered if your dogs might detect when you’re lying to them? Would this cause you to reconsider your actions the next time? Would this make you think twice next time before you fake-throw the ball to your dog?
Interestingly, there seems to be a way to test this out in animals.
What is the Sally-Anne Test?
In the Sally-Anne test, a girl by the name of Sally places a marble in a basket. When Sally isn’t around, a different girl by the name of Anne takes the stone and places it inside a box. Sally didn’t see what Anne did, so it stands to reason that she will check the basket when she returns. This test is meant to evaluate how well kids apply the notion of various points of view and logic. Even though they know the marble is in the box, those who pass the exam will anticipate Sally looking into her basket.
This same idea is used in a variety of ways by researchers to examine if animals are capable of telling when someone is lying. Given how well they seem to understand human behavior, one can only speculate that dogs would be good at this. A dog is after all “man’s best friend.”
Scientists frequently use food as a motivation to achieve this in dogs. Due to the fact that you can’t “ask” dogs to tell you what Sally thinks, they also alter other components of the exam. In one experiment, the subject (referred to as “Sally”) was asked to point out which of two buckets contained the food that had been concealed. Then, they made person 2 (referred to as “Anne”) alter the food in front of Sally or when Sally wasn’t present. A lot of dogs went towards wherever the food was, irrespective of Sally’s advice.
Surprisingly, however, the majority of dogs only acted accordingly when Sally was unaware of this alteration.
Accordingly, the study’s authors told Live Science, “We suspected the dogs might have perceived her advice as ‘deceptive’ because more canines refused to follow a human informant who knows where food is (compared to one who didn’t know), but nevertheless indicates to the empty cup.
Although it must be noted that there may be other factors we are not aware of why all the dogs didn’t go for food, this may imply that the dogs can identify if you are lying. More focus is required on this area of study. Having said that, it’s possible that dogs can detect deceit in people, so we might want to keep that in mind the next time we shake an unseen treat in our hand.
What other factors could influence dogs’ behavior?
The same dog study also looked into whether a dog’s breed matters. It was interesting to discover that border collies will choose the empty bucket if the owner was unaware of the changeover. Terriers, on the other hand, behaved very differently and typically went for the food no matter what the person said. This may be due to the distinct temperament of each breed; border collies are reputed to be more cooperative. They might therefore have a better knowledge of human nature.
Additionally, if the dogs in these kinds of experiments appear to ‘trust’ total strangers, we can only speculate as to how they might act with their owners. According to popular belief, dogs have an unwavering trust in and love for their owners.
They trust you to feed them every day and take care of them.
These dogs in the study might have trusted their owners’ suggestions even more than the experimenters.
It goes to show that these animals depend on you to love them, just like any child. Therefore, intentionally lying to them might not be the best way to go.
For dogs trying to survive among people, the ability to tell lies from the truth would be quite helpful. They can swiftly sniff about and get to their food if they can detect when you lie to them about where food is. Otherwise, they would just be wasting their time by adhering to erroneous human instructions. It is reasonable to infer that non-human animals may have evolved to exhibit similar behaviour. It seems quite possible that dogs may comprehend human motivations, yet further study is necessary before we can provide a firm conclusion.
Therefore, keep in mind that the next time you try to mislead your dog, they might be on to you, just like your mother is aware of the secret cache of chocolate you have in your room.