Fido Really Gets You—the Better to Steal From You
They're more likely to snatch food when it's dark: study
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Feb 12, 2013 1:02 PM CST
Updated Feb 16, 2013 7:00 PM CST
Dogs have a keen sense of human perception, a study finds.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – More evidence that our dogs really do understand us: They can be calculating thieves. Researchers find that dogs are four times more likely to steal forbidden food when it's dark in the room, meaning humans can't catch them in the act, the BBC reports. That may suggest that the pups are aware of a change from the humans' point of view, researchers postulate.

It's "incredible because it implies dogs understand the human can't see them, meaning they might understand the human perspective," says an author. Researchers were careful to avoid trick links like dogs associating darkness with food availability, and it's "unlikely that the dogs simply forgot that the human was in the room," the scientists say. "Humans constantly attribute certain qualities and emotions to other living things," the author adds. "These results suggest humans might be right, where dogs are concerned."

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Showing 3 of 42 comments
Feb 17, 2013 2:46 AM CST
Anyone who has had the wonderful experience of sharing life with a pet knows that animals have sentience as do humans. Obviously, domesticated animals are going to acclimate to understand their human partners to maximize their feeding options and enjoyment opportunities. This research study is no surprise. Sometime in the future (probably not in my generation), the sentience of non-human animals will be better understood and historians will look back at the atrocities we inflicted on animals and try to understand why humans caused so much unnecessary suffering upon non-human animals.
Feb 17, 2013 12:43 AM CST
Boring anecdote: One day, after the departure of some friends who had brought over a bucket of fried chicken, I walked into the kitchen and found my aging dog gobbling chicken bones out of the garbage as fast as he could, after 15 years of never eating out of my largely vegetarian garbage. He kept it up, watching me out of the corner of his eye while I stood there, too surprised to even stammer, until he decided I was about to react and he turned around and started his "you wouldn't punish a limping old dog" routine away from the garbage. I started to laugh at the transparency of it all, at which point he sensed the change in tone and began his "hop around on your hind legs" happy dance, which got me to yet another plateau of too stunned to speak, which caused him to again sense the change and go into "limping old dog" again. Not only do they know when they're being observed, they can tell what the observer is feeling. Of course.
Feb 16, 2013 7:59 PM CST
Why's the dog gotta be black, Newser?