New Japanese Study Claims Dogs Recognize Competence in Humans and Gravitate Toward Those Who Display It

A recent study from Kyoto University claims female dogs can recognize competent human beings and that they’ll naturally gravitate toward them when they require assistance. In other words, our dogs are allegedly judging us and turning to the most competent person in the room when looking for help. If you live in a multi-person household, this is going to prompt some hysterical conversations once word spreads.

Good Girl!

Oh, it gets better. Apparently, according to the research, this discerning behavior only applies to female dogs. Go figure! And, wait for it… male dogs are clueless as to the gaffes we may make. Men are going to have a lot to say about this. Entitled Female dogs evaluate levels of competence in humans, the research was conducted by by Hitomi Chijiiwa, Eri Horisaki, Yusuke Hori, James R. Anderson, Kazuo Fujita, and Hika Kuroshima.

dobie mix
Photo: Pixabay/wiggijo

Stop Judging!

The study states, “Dogs are highly sensitive to human behavior, and they evaluate us using both their direct experiences and from a third-party perspective.” It continues by saying, “Dogs pay attention to various aspects of our actions and make judgments about, for example, social vs. selfish acts.” That’s a lot to take in and giving them an awful lot of credit. If true, the magnets and small plaques reading “be the kind of person your dog thinks you are” take on a whole new importance on a level that most of us had hoped never to think about.

Animal Studies

So, what kind of tests or paces did they put these in-the-know canines through to reach these conclusions? They started by exposing the dogs to examples of “competent” and “incompetent” persons, each trying to open a transparent container by removing the lid. One of the individuals achieved success, while the other pretended to struggle and was unable to remove it. In the next step, they were each given a container with food inside, and the same routine played out in front of the dogs.

Photo: Pixabay/PicsbyFran

Best Person for the Job

The dogs were perceived to have looked at the so-called competent individual more often than the individual feigning incompetence, and that female dogs were more likely to approach the person who got the lid off. This suggested to them that female dogs judge their owner’s skills and make conscious decisions as to who they’ll approach when they need/want something. Perhaps it didn’t occur to them that once the lid was removed, the smell of the food was what likely drew their attention more than the fumbling with the unopened container. After all, dogs are food motivated.

The researchers concluded, “This result suggests that dogs can recognize different competence levels in humans, and that this ability influences their behavior according to the first situation.” Finally, they added, “Our data also indicate that more attention should be given to potential sex differences in dogs’ social evaluation abilities.”

What do you think?

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