Think your dog can read your thoughts? That they just get you? Well a new study has just proved it, confirming that our canine pals are very, very good at interpreting human behaviour. Here are the dog mind-reading traits we know to be true:
1. They know you have the snacks
And researchers have figured out why. Turns out dogs are able to see things from our perspective – a trait called ‘theory of mind,’ which we’ve always assumed was a uniquely human trait. In a recent study, researchers got a bunch of dogs to observe a person hiding food in several containers, while another person looked on (the ‘knower’) and a third person looked away (the ‘guesser’). A screen blocked out the view of the food, so the dogs had no idea which container the food was in.
But here’s the brilliant part. When they removed the screen, the knower and the guesser each pointed at different containers. So who did the dogs trust? Yep – the knower. Around 70 per cent of the time, the dogs knew exactly which human had seen the food, and used this knowledge to pick their man. Solid evidence for what they call “geometrical gaze-following and perspective-taking in dogs.” In other words, they know, that you know, where the snacks are hidden. Clever little Bruno.
2. They comfort you when you’re down
Somehow your pup always knows when you’re having a bad day. They stay close and snuggle up, right when you need it the most. So what’s going on there? According to a team of animal behaviour experts and psychologists from the universities of Lincoln and Sao Paulo, dogs really can pick up on human emotions.
Their research showed that dogs are able to recognise facial cues, but more importantly, they can actually form abstract mental representations of positive and negative emotional states. Meaning, they not only see you frowning, they also understand that you’re sad. If we needed any more proof that dogs are man’s best friend, this is it.
3. They can tell the time
It’s 9am and your dog is impatiently waiting for you at the door. Their excited eyes say it all : Walkies! But how do they know when the clock strikes 9? Unfortunately there’s still no solid scientific evidence to back up the long-held suspicion that dogs are eerily good at telling the time. However, we do know that dogs, just like humans, have a circadian rhythm that tells them when to sleep and wake. It’s possible that their bodies are simply telling them what time it is.
Another explanation is that dogs are skilled at reading environmental cues – meaning they can sense the time of day via the length of shadows, or what time-specific sounds are happening outside. Some researchers have also suggested that dogs might use their super sonic noses to sniff out the time of day. For example, when you leave the house your scent slowly disappears, and when it’s almost entirely gone, doggy knows you’re due home (with dinner).
Until the science can back us up, dog-owners world wide will continue to sigh when 9am rolls around and the dog is one step ahead of us.
Do you have a mind-reading dog? Tell us about it!