Science says your dog might seriously understand your perspective

It’s no secret that dogs and humans have a special connection. Some people argue they have more of a connection with dogs than humans. Which we can completely relate to. Well, the connection might be stronger than we think. A new study suggests that dogs can adopt the perspective of humans. This is obviously why it feels like our dogs know us so well.

Because they actually do.

Humans have the ability to interpret the behavior of other humans by attributing mental states to them. By recognizing the perspectives of others, they can then react accordingly to whatever their needs and emotions might be.

For dogs, the ability to attribute mental states (aka the Theory of Mind) has always been a controversial issue. But a new test procedure created by cognitive biologists from the Messerli Research Institute of the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna proves that dogs have more social intelligence than we thought.

The test involved two people: a “Knower,” who knew exactly where food is hidden, and a “Guesser,” who wasn’t around when the food was placed. When the food was hidden, the dogs also weren’t around. Both humans pointed to different containers of food, all which smelled like food. The dog had to figure out which person actually knew where the food was.

"To get the food, the dogs have to understand who knows the hiding place (Knower) and who does not and can, therefore, only guess (Guesser)," principal investigator Ludwig Huber said. "They must identify the informant they can rely on if they have to decide for one food container."

Around 70 percent of the time, the dogs chose the container indicated by the Knower.

The results of the test show that the dogs know where food is located based on when a human is looking at it. And dogs can interpret cues by humans to find food they can’t actually see themselves. This perspective-taking ability helps dogs cope with the human environment, and of course, in some situations, gets them all the food.