A new study demonstrated that dogs selflessly donate food to other dogs. And everybody knows how much dogs love their treats. However, in the face of a hard choice – food for another dog or for none of them – most of the dogs choose to donate food to other dogs.
Researchers argue this is a sign of prosocial behavior exhibited until now only by humans, primates, rats and crows.
Researchers used 16 dogs for the experiment. They were pared into donors – receiver teams, of which the donors were sitting on a pad and pull one of two ropes which would move a tray to the location of the receiver dog.
Each donor dog was put in front of a hard choice – they could either pull a rope that would move a tray with treats for their neighbor or the other rope which would move an empty tray. In neither of the cases, the donor dog wouldn’t receive anything for themselves.
Results revealed that the donor dogs were more likely to pull the rope that would bring a treat to their friend next-door. More than that, if the receiver dog was somebody familiar with whom they shared a bond, they were even more giving.
Since only the other dog was benefiting from their task, the researchers argue that the donor dogs were showing prosocial behavior, willingly and selflessly donating food to the other dogs.
The study, conducted by Dr. Friederike Range at the University of Veterinary medicine in Wien has been published in the Nature Scientific Reports journal.
Dr Range claims that it is for the first time when it was experimentally demonstrated that dogs show prosocial behavior.
However, previous studies had already indicated that dogs have a conscience, being able to recognize themselves in the mirror and also to recognize their own urine compared to that of other dogs.
A previous experiment included four stray dogs who spent most of their lives in freedom. Researchers collected urine samples from each of them at the beginning of each season of the year. Each time, the dogs were let free in a fenced area with the urine samples of the other three dogs, their own and another control sample with odorless cotton wool. Their sniffing times of each sample were recorded.
Scientists observed that all of them spent more time sniffing the urine of the other dogs which suggests that they can recognize their own smell, which is not that interesting to them and finally that they are self-aware. Also, the sniffing times have changed with the dog’s age, which shows that just like other species, such as chimpanzees and humans, their self-awareness increases with age.
Image source: pixabay