From the BeebDogs Understand Human Perspective, Say Researchers.

Well of course they do.

When the lights were turned off, dogs in a room with their human owners were much more likely to disobey and take forbidden food.

The study says it is “unlikely that the dogs simply forgot that the human was in the room” when there was no light. Instead it seems as though the dogs were able to differentiate between when the human was unable or able to see them.

 Juliane Kaminski carried out the research into how dogs are influenced by human circumstances

The experiments had been designed with enough variations to avoid false associations – such as dogs beginning to associate sudden darkness with someone giving them food, researchers said.

Dr Juliane Kaminski, from the University of Portsmouth’s psychology department, said the study was “incredible because it implies dogs understand the human can’t see them, meaning they might understand the human perspective”.

This could also be important in understanding the capacities of dogs that have to interact closely with humans, such as guide dogs for the blind and sniffer dogs.

Take that, you people who dismiss what any dog-lover knows as mere airy-fairy anthropomorphizing!

Previous studies have suggested that although humans might think that they can recognise different expressions on their dogs’ faces, this is often inaccurate and a projection of human emotions.

“Humans constantly attribute certain qualities and emotions to other living things. We know that our own dog is clever or sensitive, but that’s us thinking, not them,” said Dr Kaminski.

“These results suggest humans might be right, where dogs are concerned, but we still can’t be completely sure if the results mean dogs have a truly flexible understanding of the mind and others’ minds. It has always been assumed only humans had this ability.”

I might add that cats also have this cognitive ability, and may even be sharper studies than dogs.  The big difference between them, however  is that when you flip the lights back on and that pound of chuck you’d left on the kitchen counter is missing, the dog will immediately give himself away, telegraphing his guilt via expression and body-language.  In all my puff, I’ve never known a dog with a poker-face.   On the other hand, I’ve never known a cat without one.  Further, a cat has no conscience.  She will just calmly stare you down, as if to say, “Oh, yeah?  Prove it, smart guy!”