Dogs 'will ignore people who are mean to their owners'

Researchers in Japan find that canines will refuse food from those that shun their owner

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The Independent Online

It is well-known that dogs are loyal to their owners.

So you might want to be careful the next time you are mean to a dog-owner, because their pet might just be offended too.

Researchers from Japan have found that canines will refuse food from those that shun their owner, according to AFP.

The findings arose after researchers tested three groups of dogs using role play situations with their owners and two other people who the dogs were not familiar with.

Owners needed help opening a box during the role play. In the first group, one of the assistants refused to help after being asked by the owner, and in the second group, one of the assistants did help after being asked.

The other assistant in both groups did not interact at all with the owner.

In the third role play group, neither person interacted with the dog’s owner.

After the dogs watched the various role play scenes, researchers found that they were more likely to accept food from the person that did not interact with their owner, rather than the one who had actively rejected their master.

And they also discovered that dogs showed no preference for accepting food the individual that helped their owner and from those that their owner did not interact with.

The ability demonstrated by the dogs was “one of [the] key factors in building a highly collaborative society”, Kazuo Fujita, the lead researcher, told AFP. The Kyoto University professor added that the study showed “dogs share that ability with humans”.

The research will be published in the Animal Behaviour journal later this month. Fujita said that had the dogs been acting out of self-interest, there would be no difference among the groups and the same number would have accepted food from each person.

 “We discovered for the first time that dogs make social and emotional evaluations of people regardless of their direct interest," said Fujita.

Additional reporting by AFP