Dogs can instinctively sense a friendly face
It is what many dog owners have long suspected – their pets can read their personalities and know instinctively who is more likely to be friendly or give them a treat.
Dog owners often claim their pets have an uncanny ability to understand them, sensing tiredness, depression and illness even if they hide the signs.
Now scientists claimed to have proved the phenomenon and that the ability is natural and not just learnt.
Dr Monique Udell and her team from Florida University carried out two experiments involving both domesticated dogs and their relative the wolf.
The two sets of animals were given the opportunity to beg for food, either from an attentive person or from a person who ignored the potential beggar.
The researchers showed for the first time that wolves, like domestic dogs, are capable of begging successfully for food by approaching the attentive human.
This demonstrates that both species – domesticated and non-domesticated – have the capacity to behave in accordance with a human's attentional state.
They are therefore likely born with the ability, since wolves would not have had much practice, which the typical pet dog gains by begging for treats during dinner and at other times.
Dogs did, however, get better at the ability the more time they spent with humans.
Dogs in shelters were not nearly as good as well loved pets, demonstrating that exposure to humans allows dogs to hone their natural people-reading skills more.
The findings were reported in the journal Learning & Behaviour.