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Dogs are NOT Man's Best Friend: Canines Act Out of Self-Interest, Study Says

Aug 12, 2016 04:00 AM EDT
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That adorable pup might be your best friend, but you're probably not his. New research published in the journal Plos One from the University of Portsmouth revealed that when it comes down to it, dogs mostly act out of self-interest, although they do exhibit helpful behavior as well.

"We assessed whether dogs would abandon an object that they find interesting in favour of an object useful for their human partner, a random novel distractor, or an empty container," Patrizia Piotti, lead researcher from the University of Portsmouth, explained in a report from Telegraph.

"Results showed that it was mainly self-interest that was driving the dogs' behaviour."

The researchers tested 24 house dogs by placing one object helpful to a human (a notebook they have been using) and another object of interest to a dog (a toy) in separate corners.

The human were then directed to leave the room, then come back searching for the object they have been using. It is then observed whether the dog would direct their human to the notebook or if the animal would go for the toy. A stapler was used as a separate control item.

In the study, the dog was found to be more likely to approach the toy than the notebook or stapler. If the toy was taken out of the equation, Piotti said that the dog was more likely to help the human locate the notebook.

The canine's excitable nature could play a part in this though, because the helpful behavior occurred only when the human spoke in a high-pitched voice.

"Does the dog take an interest in an object that a human is interested in, or only in objects that dogs are interested in?" Clive Wynne from the Arizona State University in Tempe asked. "That got a clear-cut result: dogs only like objects that dogs like."

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