PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Dogs have long been dubbed man’s best friend, but how much do our furry friends really know about us?
Darian Pearlmatter of Center City said, “they can sense so much.”
“Fear, happiness,” said Kevin Rudd.
“When we’re not feeling well,” added Lia Crocker.
David Bigelow of Center City said, “I guess your moods.”
Now, new research published in the journal, Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, suggests “Spot” can spot bad behavior, or at least notice when someone’s being a jerk.
“My Milo definitely knows not to go up to certain people,” said Pearlmatter.
The findings are based on a series of experiments, in which dogs watched their owners struggle to open a container. After several attempts, someone stepped in to help, while a third person turned away, offering no assistance.
In the end, the dog was offered a treat by both participants and overwhelmingly chooses the more helpful human.
“That makes sense, you see someone helping the leader of the pack, you want to follow suit,” explained Rudd.
“They tend to understand what they see, the way in which we express it,” explained Dr. Carlo Siracusa, a veterinarian and clinical assistant professor in animal behavior at the University of Pennsylvania. He says the dog’s tendency toward the helper has less to do with moral judgement and more to do with the owner’s reaction. From tone of voice to facial expression.
“The dog is instead reading the body language of the owner and saying, ‘oh look, mom is happy or mom is upset. So, it’s better if I stay away from this person.”
So, what happens when we’re the ones acting out of line?
“When you’re a jerk, I think they give you a time out as well. It’s like, you were just a jerk. Give me some space and let me forgive you,” said Alexandra Connor of Center City.