Thanks to some new research, it turns out dogs aren’t quite as easy to dupe as first thought!
Dogs are actually able to understand the basic concept of numbers and “more” or “less”.
Researchers have conducted tests by training dogs to lie still in fMRI scanners; they then tested their responses to dots flashing on a screen.
It was discovered that dogs’ parietotemporal cortex responded to differences in the number of dots. Basically, this means they are able to differentiate between, say, 2 or 4 dots.
It’s thought dogs do have a basic ability to understand numbers. In the wild, they would need to determine how many predators there are, or how much food there is.
Lauren Aulet, PhD candidate and first author of the study, said, ‘We went right to the source, observing the dogs’ brains to get a direct understanding of what their neurons were doing when the dogs viewed varying quantities of dots.
‘That allowed us to bypass the weaknesses of previous behavioural studies of dogs and some other species’.
Senior author of the study, Gregory Berns, said: ‘Our work not only shows dogs use a similar part of their brain to process numbers of objects as humans do; it shows they don’t need to be trained to do it’.
So if your dog sees you have a certain number of treats in your hand and you only give them 1 – they know you’re lying!