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Deceptive-like behaviour in dogs (Canis familiaris)

Dogs are usually considered to be trustworthy pets, but a research (or perhaps research-like) study sheds light on dogs’ ability to use deceptive-like (ore perhaps deceptive) behaviour to get their way. The article “Deceptive-like behaviour in dogs” explains an experiment where

…dogs had the chance to choose, in the presence of either a cooperative or a competitive human partner, between three boxes containing either a piece of preferred food (sausage), a nonpreferred food item (dry food pellet) or an empty box. Once the dog chose which container to approach, the cooperative partner gave it the food, whereas the competitive partner took the food away.

Depriving canines a treat was enough to trigger a ‘tactical deception’ response. The dogs would lead the competitive partner, more often than chance, to the empty box. This allowed the dogs to receive the sausage later.

The results show that dogs distinguished between the cooperative and competitive partner, and indicate the flexibility of dogs to adjust their behaviour and that they are able to use tactical deception.

Bonus: Here is one recorded example of deceptive-like behaviour in a dog attempting to convince its owner that the dog has not been digging holes.

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