If you’ve ever wondered why your dog seems to know exactly where you’ve hidden their treats, scientists may have an answer.
Austrian researchers have found canines are clever enough to know when their owner is looking at food – and where they are looking.
They say the discovery shows a previously unproven ability for dogs to see things from their owner’s point of view – a key skill of social intelligence.
THE THEORY OF MIND
The so-called Theory of Mind describes the ability in humans to understand mental states such as emotions, intentions, knowledge, beliefs and desires.
This ability develops in humans within the first four or five years of life while it is usually denied in animals.
Indications that animals can understand mental states or even states of knowledge of others have only been found in apes and corvids so far.
In similar experiments, chimpanzees and few bird species such as scrub jays and ravens were able to understand the state of knowledge and also the intentions of conspecifics and modify their own behaviour accordingly.
Dogs have been tested several times, but the results were poor and contradictory.