Tag Archives: psychology

Who’s a good girl..and other things we’d like to hear

Have you ever considered that the things you say to your dog are a reflection of what you would like to hear?  Food for thought…


Your dog – strategist?

Researcher Juliane Kaminski has published a study which shows that domestic dogs are much more likely to steal food when they think nobody can see them.

Many owners may think ‘so what – I already knew this’ – but Dr Kaminski’s systematic study helps to prove that dogs have the capacity to understand the human’s point of view.

Juliane Kaminski and her dog, Ambula (courtesy of University of Portland)

Juliane Kaminski and her dog, Ambula (courtesy of University of Portland)

The study found that when a human forbids a dog from taking food, dogs are four times more likely to disobey in a dark room than a lit room, suggesting that they understand humans may not be able to see them take the food.

The tests were complex and involved many variables to rule out that dogs were basing their decisions on simple associative rules, for example, that dark means food. 42 female and 42 male dogs took part in the study.

This is the first study to examine if dogs differentiate between different levels of light when they are developing strategies on whether to steal food.

The research is an incremental step in our understanding of dogs’ ability to think and understand which could, in turn, be of use to those who work with dogs, including the police, the blind and those who use gun dogs, as well as those who keep them as pets.

Dr Kaminski’s study has been published in the journal Animal Cognition.

Source:  University of Portsmouth media statement

Aggressive dog? How agreeable is the owner?

Research from the University of Leicester’s School of Psychology  has revealed that young people who are more disagreeable are likely to own an aggressive dog.

‘Agreeableness’ means being less concerned with the needs or well-being of others.  Such people may be suspicious, unfriendly and competitive as well.

Participants were given personality tests and  indicated their preference for different types of dogs  . The dogs were independently rated according to how aggressive people perceived them to be. Bull terriers were rated as most aggressive, followed by boxers; retrievers and cocker spaniels were seen as least aggressive.

The study’s results also show a small effect suggesting that those who liked aggressive dogs showed signs of conscientiousness – being careful, reliable and thoughtful about their actions.

Whilst this finding (about conscientiousness) contradicts a long-held perception that owners of aggressive dogs are always irresponsible, Dr Vincent Egan, the study’s lead researcher suggests caution before reading too much into the conclusion:

“These results with Conscientiousness were unexpected, but the effect is a small one, and needs to be repeated in a different group of people. Studies of this kind tend to only look at a restricted age ranges, which may exaggerate findings which do not occur across the entire lifespan, so we believe a stereotype is always true, whereas it may only be true under certain conditions. Our study employed a broader age range.”

Dr Egan’s study has been published in the journal Anthrozoos.