We’ve always suspected that our dogs would be willing to do anything for us – especially when we’re in immediate danger. For most of us we’ve never had to put that suspicion to the test but that still doesn’t stop us from wondering. Well, wonder no more because there is now actual science to back up what many dog owners have long assumed to be true.
The study comes from two researchers at Arizona State University, and its findings were published in the journal PLOS ONE. According to AFP, the results were that our dogs want to lend a helping hand to us whenever they believe us to be in trouble. So, all those heroic dogs that we see in film and TV are actually pretty accurate.
As researcher Joshua Van Bourg went on to explain, it wasn’t so much about the observation of dogs in action of rescuing their owners, but more about figuring out the motivations behind their actions.
During the study as to why dogs are inspired to save their owners, Van Bourg, along with his co-researcher, Clive Wynne, set up 60 dogs with their owners in fake scenarios that required rescue. For example, during one, owners were placed in a large box with a lightweight door that the dogs could then maneuver aside in order to “save” them. When the owners were in the box, they pretending to be in anguish. The owners did not use the dog’s name because they didn’t want to study to be tainted out of a dog’s obedience to hearing their name.
The second part of the study involved Van Bourg and Wynne placing food inside the box in order in order to see how many of those same 60 dogs would be motivated by food to open the door. As the two tests ended up showing, about one-third of the dogs managed to successfully rescue their owners. And roughly that same number also opened up the box to get the food.
Therefore, the conclusion from both these responses from canines finds that dogs could potentially find the rescue of the loved ones to be as equally a rewarding task as finding food. As Van Bourg pointed out, when you look deeper into the results of the study, you’ll find that the dog’s call to heroism is pretty incredible.
As he explained, “The key here is that without controlling for each dog’s understanding of how to open the box, the proportion of dogs who rescued their owners greatly underestimates the proportion of dogs who wanted to rescue their owners.”
He further added that the fact that two-thirds of the dogs weren’t motivated by food is actually a pretty strong indicator that their desire to rescue their owner is probably based on something deeper and more meaningful.
The researcher continued saying, “If you look at only those 19 dogs that showed us they were able to open the door in the food test, 84 percent of them rescued their owners. So, most dogs want to rescue you, but they need to know how.”
So, there you have it. If you’re in trouble, your dog will have your back. What do you think of the study’s results? Let us know!
Anastasia is an American writer and journalist living in Dublin, Ireland. Her Twitter is @AnastasiaArell5.
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