Dogs May Show Human-Like Affection for One Another
For years, pet parents have known that dogs have outstanding, generous qualities. It has recently been found that this generosity extends to other fellow canines.
Researchers from the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna have found that dogs are willing to help other dogs, especially if they are a good friend. The findings were published in the journal Nature Publishing Group.
A willingness to give
The findings, released on December 16, 2015, suggest that dogs might demonstrate empathy and giving similarly to humans. This trait is known as prosocial behavior, and has only been linked to humans, until now. The researchers wanted to determine exactly how generous thedogs were, so they tested them with dogs they knew and did not know.
The 16 dogs were divided into groups of two for the study. One dog within each pair was considered the "donor dog." The dog selected for this position had the option to give something to the other dog, in this case, a treat.
Each pair was divided by a cage. However, the donor dogs had the option to use their mouths to pull a string that would bring either a tray with a treat, or a tray without a treat, towards the mouth of their companion. In many cases, dogs who knew their partner were willing to give him a treat. However, if they did not know their companion as well, the were less inclined to offer the treat.
"Prosocial behavior was exhibited less frequently toward unfamiliar dogs than toward familiar ones," according to lead study author Friederike Range of the Messerli Research Institute.
Making a difference
The researchers concluded that dogs were more likely to give their friends treats over other dogsthey did not know as well. The study authors believe that distraction was not a reason for why the donor dogs were not willing to give their less familiar companions treats. Instead, they suggested that it simply had to do with friendliness. The donor dogs made no effort to try to get to know their stranger partners.
The researchers also believe that the dogs knew the significance behind each treat. At the end of each session, dogs were able to give themselves a treat, and most dogs took the treats they were given.
The results suggest that dogs may be able to detect what dogs they identify with and may be more willing to give to them over others, just like humans do.
So if you ever wonder whether your dog would do all the favors you do for him, he most likely would.