Your dog can tell when you're lying, according to experts

A study suggests that dogs may be able to tell when their owners are lying to them

dog
(Image credit: F.J. Jimenez / Getty Images)

A new study conducted in Japan found that dogs are able to tell when humans are lying to them—which might mean that a lot of us are in hot water with our pets!

We all love our furry friends and never plan on lying to them but sometimes it’s needed. For example, when you insist that all the treats are gone and there’s nothing more for them to eat, but there are plenty of treats and they are just being greedy. Or when you call them 'the cutest dog in the world' but actually they've just had a horrible haircut at the groomers and you're terrified by their new look. 

Well, we may not be able to get away with these lies anymore as a scientific study conducted at Kyoto University in Japan found that when tested, dogs were able to work out when humans were lying to them—uh oh.


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dog

(Image credit: Nicole Lienemann / EyeEm / Getty Images)

Researchers conducted this study by presenting a dog with two containers. One of the containers contained food and the other contained nothing.

In the first test, the experimenter would point at the container with food, and the dog would go and investigate and find food. 

In the second test, the experimenter would point at the container with no food. The dog still ran over to the container and was disappointed to be rewarded with no food.

In the third test, the experimenter would repeat the first test and point at the container with food. However, the studies showed that the dog was now reluctant to go over to the container. 

The experiment was then repeated in different variations with different dogs to identify if there was a chance that the dogs were simply becoming apathetic towards the task. They concluded that this was not the case and the dogs were indeed learning to identify that the human experimenters were not telling the truth.

This study showed that dogs were able to learn that the experimenter was not always telling the truth, suggesting that dogs are able to recognize that humans are capable of lying and not always reliable. 

The researchers state, “These results suggest that not only dogs are highly skilled at understanding human pointing gestures, but also they make inferences about the reliability of a human who presents cues and consequently modify their behavior flexibly depending on the inference.”

So we should probably all stop lying to our dogs—as I'm pretty sure they're on to us!