Monday, February 20, 2017

Dogs have moral sense

A Feb. 18 article in New Scientist called "Dogs and Monkeys Prefer Good People" describes an experiment in which dogs and monkeys (but not together) watched one actor struggled to open a jar containing a toy. A second actor then helped or refused to help the first actor open the jar and get the reward. Both actors then offered the monkey or dog a treat.

In cases where the actors cooperated, the dogs and monkeys showed no preference about accepting the treat from either one. In cases where the second actor did not help the first, they showed a marked preference for accepting a treat from the first actor.

Dogs judged and preferred people who showed cooperative social behavior in much the same way a year-old human does. We know how carefully our dogs observe us, the way they can predict it's walk time while we're forming the thought and don't believe we've even made a move.

And now we know for sure that they know whether we've been bad or good. Who needs Santa when the dog is watching to make sure we're sharing our toys and food?