Is Your Dog Perceptive or Deceptive?

Recent studies has been testing dogs’ ability to use deception to get what they want from humans. A team of researchers headed by Marianne Heberlein of the Department of Evolutionary Biology and Experimental Studies at the University of Zürich wanted to gauge the animals’ ability to be tricky when obtaining treats or benefits from people. The study called “Deceptive-like behaviour in dogs (Canis familiaris)”, was published in journal Animal Cognition and involved studying 27 dogs, operating on the assumption that dogs are more likely to try to deceive people who they don’t like, especially when it is in their self-interest to do so.

“Over the course of a two-day testing period, the dogs were repeatedly presented with this conundrum. They had been trained to lead both partners to boxes containing food, but they knew that the competitive partner would not let them eat the snacks. They also knew that if any snacks remained inside the boxes once they were reunited with their owners, they would get a chance to eat them. So the dogs got a little devious.” [source]

In commenting about the study, Stanley Coren of Physchology Today, writes “It is as though the dog is thinking, ‘Why should I tell that selfish person where the best treat [is] if it means that I will never get it?'”

Heberlein also noted how surprisingly fast some dogs figured out the optimal behavior; ie. getting the most from the human who’d previously demonstrated they were generous with the treats. “Other animals, such as monkeys, often need dozens of repetitions to learn similar lessons, she says.”

From personal experience, I know that my dogs are very skilled at getting what they want from me or those in the Newcomb household. Sometimes it seems like we are their trained monkeys. But i have also noticed that many dogs use deceptive practices when trying to trick their own kind. At one time, i thought i might be the only one who’d seen this. But yes, I have witnessed the great sleeping spot fake-out. Similar to what I’ve read online, more than one of my beloved brood has caused a disturbance or pretended to chase after something, only to get another Chihuahua to give up the most comfortable spot on the couch with Momma.

Here’s one of my favorite short videos of two dogs playing with a squeaky toy. Wait for the surprise at the end…

One of the most interesting tricks was that of our old Corgi, Simon who would develop a limp when he saw a suitcase, indicating we were going on vacation and leaving him behind. This brought much sympathy and extra love and treats his way. We knew he was faking but we thought he was very clever!

Carl and Frasier will not always eat for their pet sitters. Carl knows he will get hand fed tasty bits of chicken if he doesn’t eat his dog food. Carl also enjoys being carried around and will insist on a ride upstairs if he pleases.

Frasier has also used the limp technique for extra chicken and love. And he loves to go in and out of the house to potty even if he doesn’t have to, just so he can get a reward, that however does not always work, but he never gives up.

When they line up for treats, Jacques tries to confuse me by cutting the line from behind to fool me and receive an extra cookie.

Actually they will do anything for a piece of chicken! And of course we are easily manipulated, just one look from those loving doggy eyes will do it every time!




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