12 October 2010

Some dogs see the doughnut; others see the hole!

According to the Guardian scientists seem to have found that some dogs have a more gloomy outlook on life than others. This finding comes from a study by Bristol University researchers into how dogs behave when separated from their owners.

Dogs that were generally calm when left alone were also found to have a "dog bowl half full" attitude to life, while those that barked, relieved themselves and destroyed furniture appeared to be more pessimistic, the study concluded. The more anxiously a dog behaved on being parted from its owner, the more gloomy its outlook appeared to be

Michael Mendl, the head of animal welfare and behaviour at the university, and his team studied 24 animals at two dog homes in the UK varying in age and bred.

They began the study by going to a room with each dog in turn and playing for 20 minutes. They returned the next day, but this time left the dog alone for five minutes, during which the scientists recorded the animal's behaviour with a video camera. The footage was used to give each dog an anxiety score.

A day or two later, the dogs were trained to walk over to a food bowl that was full when placed at one end of a room, and empty when placed at the other. When the dogs had learned the difference, the scientists tested the animals' underlying mood by placing bowls in ambiguous positions – in the middle of the room, for example – and noting how quickly each dog went to the bowl.

The dogs that had been most anxious in the earlier test were slowest to approach food bowls placed in or near the middle of the room, suggesting they expected to find the bowl empty. The less anxious dogs ran to the food bowls

Well there you have it. Are there dogs that really think the world is crap, rather than a bowl of cherries? I don’t know. I know that cats do not have the same issues – they know that their servants will provide a full bowl (or else!) and they don’t give a damn about being left alone


CherryPie said...

The tests seem a little cruel to me... But as you said cats don't have the same issues, they wouldn't allow themselves to be trained to do anything ;-)

Frank Partisan said...

Really good post.

Imagine the angry dogs in the wild.

Ruth said...

Interesting, but I'm not sure it's very scientific. If the dogs were in dog homes then the scientists would have no information about their background or the influence their past would have on the test.

I was out walking with a canine friend yesterday, and she is definitely of the "dog bowl half full" variety :)

jams o donnell said...

That's true Ruth

Thanks Ren

Ha Cherie, cats are trainers not trainees!

SnoopyTheGoon said...

As you well know, Jams, dogs were way after cats in line for IQ distribution. And they got the leftovers.

Liz Hinds said...

And people get money to research this.

jams o donnell said...

And meagre leftovers too Snoopy!

Indeed. What a life, Liz!