Dogs Can Distinguish Between Intentional and Unintentional Actions by Humans

A study published in Nature found that dogs can tell the difference when a human makes an intentional action versus an unintentional one.

In the experiment, dogs received three conditions: intentionally withholding a reward, unintentionally withholding a reward due to being clumsy, and unintentionally withholding a reward due to being physically prevented (a clear barrier with no opening).

Dogs waited significantly longer before approaching a reward when it was withheld intentionally than a reward that was unintentionally withheld due to clumsiness or physical barrier. This shows that dogs interpret these actions differently.

Read Dogs distinguish human intentional and unintentional action.