Dogs are sneaky sneaky. That comes as no surprise. They quietly pilfer fallen table scraps and stash them under the couch. They sneak into your bed after you’ve fallen asleep, even though you specifically told them not to. They try to blame the, *ahem*, “present” in the hallway on somebody else. They might be even sneakier than we originally anticipated, though. The findings of one study suggest dogs know how to lie to get what they want–only in the cutest way ever, though.
The study aimed to find whether dogs could knowingly mislead humans to get the treat they wanted. The researchers set up three food box locations: one had the dogs’ favorite treat, the second had a treat they didn’t like quite as much, and the third was empty. The dogs were then taught to lead two different humans to the treats: a cooperative one and a competitive one. The cooperative human would give them whatever treat was inside, and the competitive one would keep the treat for themselves. Selfish!
Here’s where it gets really crazy.
On the first day of the study, the researchers found the dogs would lead the cooperative partner to the box with their favorite treat more than they would with the competitive partner.
By day two, they were leading the competitive partner to their favorite treat less and less, and more to the empty box. In other words, the dogs understood that by misleading the competitive partner and taking them to the least favorite treat box or empty box, they still had a chance to get the treat they wanted. In a very short amount of time, they were able to determine who would help them accomplish their goals and who would get in their way. If that’s not brilliant, I don’t know what is.
Now, if only humans could consistently do this…