Study Shows Dogs Will Ignore You If They Know You're Lying

Think you can fool your dog? Think again.

There's no fooling our four legged friends—dogs, that is. As a new study shows that dogs, unlike children, will literally ignore people that are lying. 

Researchers from the University of Vienna trained 260 dogs to look for hidden food in covered bowls. A communicator—who would touch the bowl and tell the dog: "Look, this is very good"–would then move the food to another bowl and suggest the empty bowl and essentially lie.

Two-thirds of the dogs involved ignored the communicator and went straight for the bowl with food. A surprising move that sets dogs apart from children under the age of five, Japanese macaques, or chimpanzees based on previous studies.

"We thought dogs would behave like children under age five and apes, but now we speculate that perhaps dogs can understand when someone is being deceitful," said Ludwig Huber at the University of Vienna in Austria. "Maybe they think, 'This person has the same knowledge as me, and is nevertheless giving me the wrong [information].' It's possible they could see that as intentionally misleading, which is lying."

You probably already knew this if you've tried to lie to your dog before. But, it's still interesting to get science to chime in here, though.

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Paolo Chua
Paolo Chua is the Associate Style Editor of Esquire Philippines.
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