Dogs know what we’re thinking and can tell if we’re making a mistake, new research suggests

Who is a smart dog! Dogs know what we’re thinking and can tell if we’re making a mistake, new research suggests

  • Experts from the Max Planck Institute in Germany suggest dogs can read our minds
  • Research suggests dogs can tell if something was intentional or a mistake
  • Scientists at the institute studied 51 dogs of different breeds and then analyzed responses to different scenarios where a human tried to give them a treat


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Dogs may even be smarter than we think — as research shows, they can read our minds.

Scientists have discovered that dogs can tell when a human has done something on purpose and when they have made a mistake.

Researchers at Germany’s Max Planck Institute recruited 51 dogs of different breeds that sat on one side of a clear plastic barrier with a hole in it for a human on the other to put a treat through.

Research by scientists at the German Max Planck Institute studied dogs of different breeds and found that dogs can tell if people did something on purpose or if it was a mistake

Research by scientists at the German Max Planck Institute studied dogs of different breeds and found that dogs can tell if people did something on purpose or if it was a mistake

The human either suddenly withdrew the food, seemed to want to give it a treat but ‘accidentally’ dropped it in front of the opening, or wanted to give the candy, but the opening was blocked.

The researchers measured how long it took each dog to walk around the barrier to get the food. Those whose food was deliberately taken away took 33 percent longer.

The researchers, whose study is in Scientific Reports, said this indicates the dogs can distinguish between actions done intentionally or accidentally.

They said, ‘The dogs in our study behaved distinctly differently depending on whether a human experimenter’s actions were intentional or unintentional.

“This suggests that dogs can indeed identify people’s intent-in-action.”

They acknowledge that their findings “may be received with skepticism” and that further research is needed to explore alternative explanations, such as behavioral cues on the part of the researchers or previous dog training.

Scientists said further studies are needed to explore alternative explanations for their results, such as behavioral cues on the part of the researchers or previous dog training

Scientists said further studies are needed to explore alternative explanations for their results, such as behavioral cues on the part of the researchers or previous dog training

Scientists said further studies are needed to explore alternative explanations for their results, such as behavioral cues on the part of the researchers or previous dog training

Co-author Dr. Juliane Brauer, of the Max Planck Institute, said: “If dogs are indeed capable of attributing intention-in-action to humans, we would expect them to show different responses in the reluctant state compared to the two reluctant states.

“It turns out that this is exactly what we observed.”

Co-author Dr. Hannes Rakoczy, of the University of Göttingen, added: “This suggests that dogs may indeed be able to identify people’s intention-in-action.”

Previous studies have shown that dogs can tell the difference between happy and angry faces.

They also process language in a way very similar to humans — picking up emotional tone, intonation, and volume changes that affect meaning.

Experts think dogs gradually evolved over 30,000 years to understand humans

Selective breeding favored those who could communicate better with their owners, making the trait more apparent over time.

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