Be nice - or your dog may judge you.
According to a study recently published in the journal Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews and highlighted by New Scientist, dogs can tell when someone's being a jerk, and they use that information when deciding how to interact with the humans around them.
James Anderson of Kyoto University tested dogs and monkeys to see if their behavior changed in reaction to 'moral' situations.
In the study, dogs watched their owners struggling to open a container while an actor either helped, acted passively, or refused to lend them a hand.
When one of the bystanders had helped open the container, the dogs didn't really favor the helpful one over the passive one - they were just as likely to take the treat from either of the two. But in the second condition, when the active bystander was actively being a jerk, the dogs showed a clear preference, shunning them in favor of the one who didn't do anything.
Dog's long relationship with humans might have made them more sensitive to our feelings.
Similarly, monkeys understood fairness and helpfulness. They would shun actors who refused to help other people with basic tasks when they offered treats.
The results, the researchers argued, suggest that both dogs and monkeys have a sense of morality similar to that of human babies: "If somebody is behaving antisocially, they probably end up with some sort of emotional reaction to it," study author James Anderson, an animal behavior researcher at Kyoto University in Japan, told New Scientist.
In 2011, at the same university, dogs were shown to prefer people who gave food to beggars over those who refused.