As many dog owners know, the animals eagerly watch people all the time, said the study’s senior author, Kazuo Fujita, a professor of psychology and comparative cognition at Kyoto University in Japan.
But it’s not clear whether dogs watch people for the animals’ own immediate benefit (such as for a signal that they’re getting a treat) or simply to figure out what’s happening.
If dogs, or any animals, are able to socially eavesdrop on people, it could help the animals assess people from afar.
Dogs may play catch, obey commands and even share the occasional dessert with their owners, but can they understand simple interactions between people?
A new study says yip-yip-yes.
In a recent experiment, dogs tended to avoid people who had snubbed the animals’ owners, the researchers found. This suggests that dogs can read human social situations, an ability known as “social eavesdropping.” Read more…