Any dog lover can tell you hundreds of stories about how their dogs have changed their lives, but it turns out that dogs are actually much more in tune with their humans than we could have ever imagined. Recent research has proven that dogs are not only ideal jogging or cuddling buddies, but they actually know their owners better than anyone else in the world.
Dogs can sense everything about their guardians, from illness to emotional state, when they are lying to, when they aren’t paying attention. With all this knowledge and intuition stored up, it is no wonder these amazing animals have been our go-to best friends for the past 10,000 years.
1. Dogs Know When You Aren’t Paying Attention
Every pet parent knows that their dog behaves very differently when they are home versus when they are away. Dogs know exactly what they can get away with once they hear that car door close and you drive away. Even just stepping out of the room allows your pup the chance to misbehave a little. It seems like the second you’re distracted, they swoop in and something goes amuck. Recent research has found that, no, you aren’t crazy, dogs are actually doing this on purpose.
Dr. Juliane Kaminski at the University of Portsmouth found that when humans actually forbade their dogs from eating a piece of food, the dogs were four times as likely to steal it in the dark. This is indicative of the dog’s awareness that their human does not want them to eat the piece of food, so they have to find a way to work around this to get what they really want. To achieve this, dogs take into account what their human can and cannot see when choosing whether or not to pursue the tasty treat.
“That’s incredible because it implies dogs understand the human can’t see them, meaning they might understand the human perspective,” said Dr. Kaminski.
Other recent research found that dogs will also wait to steal the food until their guardian is out of the room, turned away, or blindfolded, proving that pups are much mores aware of our state than we thought.
2. They Know When You’re Sick
In the past few years, the position of dogs in the medical field has increased a great deal. Dogs have gone from their traditional working role as seeing eye dog, and filled in some other much-needed positions. Seizure detection dogs are trained to alert their mom or dad when a seizure is approaching, something no other machine or person can do. Dogs have also been trained to detect changes in blood sugar levels, making the lives of diabetics much easier. Even cancer-detecting dogs are becoming more common, providing preliminary cancer detection in the least invasive and most adorable way possible. Thanks to their powerful noses, which are 1,000 times stronger than ours, dogs are changing the way many illnesses and diseases are being handled. They are making the lives of people better.
3. Dogs Know When You’re Lying
Although this isn’t the most ideal quality for our four-legged friends to have, it sure keeps us honest. Research conducted at Kyoto University tested 34 different dogs to determine if they could tell when a human is lying. One person was given two containers, one full of delicious treats and the other empty. In the first round, the researcher would point to the box of treats and the dog would happily eat. In the second round, he would point to the empty box, lying to the animal about its contents. In the third round, the dog was much more hesitant to trust that there was food in the box as a result of being lied to the previous round.
“Dogs have more sophisticated social intelligence than we thought,” said Dr. Akiko Takaoka, a researcher at Kyoto University and a co-author of the study. “This social intelligence evolved selectively in their long life history with humans.”
The research shows that dogs trusted the next researcher, because he had not yet lied to them. So, pet parents, careful when you use the old “we’re going to the park,” trick to get your pup to the vet!
4. They Know What You’re Feeling
Probably the most amazing of all the recent research published on our canine companions found that dogs can actually sense happiness and sadness in their humans. A study done at the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna found that dogs can read human expressions, the first research to conclude that animals (other than humans) can pick up on emotional facial cues. Dogs were trained to select either “happy” or “angry” faces on a computer screen. They were then shown images of different people with these faces, but only the bottom or top half of the face. The dogs were excellent at picking the correct facial cue. Not only that, but the dogs trained for the “happy” cue learn much faster than those selected for the “angry” cue, showing that dogs already preferred the happy faces.
“We think the dogs in our study could have solved the task only by applying their knowledge of emotional expressions in humans to the unfamiliar pictures we presented to them,” said author Corsin Müller.
Most pet parents believe their dogs have a deep understanding of their emotions. When we’re feeling sad, dogs know to sit close to us, providing the comfort we love and need. This research only proves what many pet parents have known all along.
5. They Know Exactly What You Need
Dogs have grown and changed alongside humans for 10,000 years. They have adapted to pick up on our facial cues, emotions, and behaviors. Because of this, dogs across the world are filling the role of best friend, providing an understanding of their human that cannot be replicated by any other human or animals (sorry, cats). Your sweet pup is smarter than you think and is willing to do everything they can to help you navigate this wild life. So, reach over and give your pup a loving pat on the head, scratch behind the ear, or bear hug (whatever they prefer). Life definitely would not be the same without the loving companionship of a dog.
Lead image source: Flickr