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Science Says: Dogs Totally Judge You Based On How You Treat Other People

Written by Bre Avery and Caroline Carpenter

I know that half the reason people love dogs is because they love you no matter what and never judge you. However, that’s not entirely the case.

I mean sure, they don’t judge you based on your outfit, or what you’re eating for dinner, or if you’ve decided not to brush your hair yet. They do judge you though, based on how you treat other people.

A team at Kyoto University, lead by Dr. James Anderson recently published “Third-party Social Evaluations of Humans by Monkey and Dogs” in the Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews.

Essentially, this paper revealed that dogs react negatively to humans who refuse to help others. It means that they are able to sense how you are treating someone, and they then use that information to decide how they are going interact with you.

During the test, dogs watched humans interact. Each human participating in the study would offer them a treat. The dogs would see their owner try to open a treat jar and then another person would enter and either help them open it or refuse to.

Eventually, once the jar was opened each human would offer the dog a treat. From there it was observed that dogs showed preference to accepting a treat from those who helped their owner vs. those who avoided helping or completed ignored them.

It was also observed that dogs don’t need to see someone physically struggle to understand that something is not right. Dr. Anderson pointed out that “if somebody is behaving antisocially” the dog will “probably end up with some sort of emotional reaction to it.”

The bottom line here is that dogs are much smarter than we give them credit for. Many people don’t realize how emotionally in tune dogs are and often take their unconditional love for granted. Make sure this isn’t you as an owner!