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Dogs can deceive to get what they want, study finds

Last Updated Mar 16, 2017 at 7:43 pm EDT

Does your dog have the ability to deceive you to get what it wants? According to a study published in Animal Cognition, it does.

The Swiss study was conducted on a number of dogs of different breeds.

The animals were introduced to two women. One was cooperative; the other, competitive.

During the test, researchers placed three boxes before the dogs — one with food they liked, one with food they disliked and one empty.

On the first day, when the dogs led the women to the preferred food box, the cooperative woman gave the dog the food, while the competitive woman kept it for herself.

On the second day, researchers found the dogs would often lead the competitive woman to the empty box and the cooperative woman to the food.

The author of the study went on to suggest dogs are able to “adjust their behaviour and that they are able to use tactical deception.”

Owner and head trainer Caryn Liles at the Toronto Centre for Canine Education said such behaviour is natural for canines, but she doesn’t think they have the ability to be deceptive.

“I think the wording was interesting,” she said. “Dogs have the intelligence level of a two- to three-year-old child.

“They lack things like spite and guilt and they don’t have a moral compass, which we often mistake … So, it’s not that they are lying because they don’t have that moral compass, but they operate on their environment in order to achieve whatever goal they have.”