Dog burglars: Dogs steal more in the dark

Dr. Juliane Kaminski, one of our Scientific Advisory Board members, has made a cool finding: dogs are more likely to sneak food from people when the lights are out.

Kaminski, who is a lecturer and research in the Psychology department of the University of Portsmouth, found that dogs were four times more likely to steal food after being told not to if the room was dark.

Kaminski also showed that dogs’ behavior depended on what part of the room was dark. If the food was illuminated, dogs were less likely to be sneaky, regardless of whether or not light was shed on the human in the room. This shows that dogs are really paying attention to what the human can and can’t see, rather than whether the dogs could or couldn’t see the human.

Turn Your Back and Cover Your Eyes

This finding reflects what Dognition is looking for when you play the Cunning games. You begin the games, called “Turn Your Back” and “Cover Your Eyes”, by placing a treat in front of you and telling your dog to “leave it”.  Then you cover turn your back or cover your eyes to see just how wily or trustworthy your dog is. Research has shown that dogs are much less likely to eat the food when their owners were watching, rather than when their back was turned or their eyes were covered. Especially if the dogs are closer to the wily side of the cunning spectrum.

Interestingly, we’ve found that dogs who are “bonded” to their owners in the Empathy dimension are also the ones who are most cunning. So being in tune with their owners seems to give dogs a little extra edge when it comes to getting what they want.

All this research goes to show that dogs really do try and see the world through your eyes, especially if it means free food!

Do you have a dog burglar? Purchase a Dognition Toolkit to find out how wily your dog is.