Researchers have discovered that dogs recognize human intentions

Researchers have discovered that dogs recognize human intentions

German researchers have found that dogs may be smarter than previously thought. Pets can distinguish between intentional and unintentional actions by people, they write in the scientific journal Scientific Reports.

Although the ‘theory of mind‘The ability to attribute and recognize thoughts to others that could lead to certain behaviors is often considered uniquely human, and the study suggests that dogs are partially capable of this. “Our findings provide important preliminary evidence that dogs have the ability to recognize intent in action,” the authors wrote, noting that chimpanzees, African gray parrots, and horses can also do this.

It was already clear, for example, that dogs get excited by cues that indicate upcoming action, such as when a chain is being picked up. It was unclear whether the dogs actually understood human intentions. German researchers now describe in the journal Scientific Reports “Treatment Test” to learn more about the canine brain. The researchers and the dogs were separated from each other by a barrier in which an opening was made.


During the study, the researchers tested dogs in three ways: In one case, they tried to offer a treat but “accidentally” dropped it on their side of the screen and said “Oops!” In another case, they tried to provide treatment. But the hatch was blocked. On the third, the researcher offered the reward, but suddenly withdrew it and said: “Ha ha!”


This indicates that dogs do distinguish between intentional actions and unintended behavior

Conclusion researchers

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“The idea of ​​this experiment is that in all three situations, for one reason or another, they don’t get food,” said Julian Breuer, a study co-author at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. . The difference is whether or not it was because the treatment was intentionally withheld.

The research team wrote that dogs display distinctly different behavior in different conditions. The results, which are based on an analysis of video recordings of 51 dogs, showed that the dogs kept a longer distance from the door when the researchers suddenly pulled the food out. They also stop wagging their tails a lot and sit or lie down.

The researchers concluded, “This suggests that dogs do distinguish between intentional actions and unintended behavior.” However, they note that more research is needed to examine whether the dogs actually responded to the researcher’s various exclamation marks.

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