Your Dog Avoids People Who Snubbed You


I read a fascinating article in Live Science by Laura Geggel.  Even though it’s not conclusive, there is evidence that our dogs avoid people who are not nice to us—their owners.  I think the term is social eavesdropping.

V-e-r-y  i-n-t-e-r-e-s-t-i-n-g.

54 dogs and their owners participated in an experiment.  In one part of the experiment, the owner tries to open a jar and deliberately not be able to do so.  The owner asks an actor close by for help.  The actor helps the owner open the jar.

In another part of the experiment, the actor would refuse to help the owner and turn away.  (I assume it’s different actors.)

Afterwards, the actor and a neutral bystander would offer a treat to the dog at the same time.  With the actor who helped the owner, the dog would take the treat from the actor and the neutral bystander at about the same speed.  But the actor that refused to help, the dog tends to avoid that actor and takes treats more often from the neutral bystander.

What do YOU make of this?

Andrew Blight

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

“[The] dogs avoided people who behaved negatively to the owner,” Fujita said.

It’s perplexing that the dogs didn’t prefer the helpful actor over the bystander in the first condition, but perhaps helping is a “standard” that dogs have, meaning it’s possibly status quo and nothing special, Fujita said.

“Dogs may have hated a violator of this standard,” he said. “Similar negativity bias has been reported in human infants.”

You can read the entire article here.


Article source:  Live Science

Image source:  Andrew Blight on



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