Dogs prefer winners

Dogs playing, stockphotoDogs like sports celebrities too. They watch other dogs ‘play fight’ then hang out with the winners.

Dogs seem to enjoy watching other dogs compete against each other and gravitate towards the winners at the end of the game. The UK researchers, who publish their research in the journal Animal Behaviour, believe their discovery is the first demonstration of any animal eavesdropping play.

In this case, dogs appear to gain information about another dog or human’s social status and ability just by watching that individual compete.

Pooches excitedly rush toward victors when games finish, not unlike enthusiastic human sports fans at a stadium.

Recent research reveals an animals’ perspective. The aim is to allow owners and vets to make objective decisions on how to care for them, free of subjective human assumptions.

It could also help vets find more appropriate ways to treat animals and relieve suffering. For instance, some medical therapies can interfere with how an animal interacts with others, says John Bradshaw of the University of Bristol, UK. Treat a dog with antibiotics, and you risk killing the bacteria that live in its anal sac and produce the individual scent by which it is recognizable to other dogs. “We don’t think of dogs losing their identities as a result of medical treatment,” he says. Our failure to see life from a dog’s perspective means that vets will too freely prescribe antibiotics without considering the consequences for the animal.

Your dog falls ill, so you take him to the vet. After a quick consultation you take him home, and soon he appears to be better. But he is not. You and the vet have failed to realise that he is still in severe pain, and the drugs the vet has prescribed will turn him into a social outcast, a dog that may be shunned or even attacked by others.

Such mistakes can happen, say animal behaviour specialists, because our understanding of animal welfare is inadequate, and at times misguided. The human tendency to anthropomorphise means we miss out on animals’ real feelings and needs…

Researchers gathered at a conference held at the Royal Society in London to hear the latest evidence on how animals interpret the world. One thing is clear: they do not see it the same way we do, and only by accepting that can we learn to care for them better.

Article at New Scientist