Just about everyone who lives with a dog has a story or perhaps many tales about how their companion is an Einsteinian genius with an incredibly rich and deep emotional life who even knows right from wrong. And, what's very interesting, is that scientific research is supporting these stories coming from non-scientists who take the time to watch how their dog behaves in various situations, some of whom even perform citizen-scientist research projects.
Stealth dogs know what humans can see
Two recent studies published in the journal Animal Cognition concerned with visual perspective taking in dogs show just how stealthy dogs can be when stealing food. In the first project, aptly titled "Dogs steal in the dark" conducted by researchers from the University of Portsmouth in the UK and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, dogs were found to steal significantly more food in the dark compared to when it was light. Before testing, a human had forbade the dogs from taking a piece of food so the dogs knew they were doing something they weren't supposed to do. The researchers also discovered that the dog’s behavior while stealing food depended on the type of illumination in the room. When the food was illuminated, but not the human, the dogs didn't try to steal the food. The results of this research suggest that dogs take into account the human’s visual access to the food, their visual perspective, while making their decision whether to steal it or not.