The dog is man’s best friend. It has always been said, and now a new study published in PLOS ONE confirms the truism that your dog will do everything possible to rescue you if you are in danger. But there’s a twist, as researchers have shown: your dog has to know how to help you.
In fact, this is the conclusion of the study, which was designed very carefully by several researchers. The experiment involved 60 dogs and their owners, who were divided into three different scenarios: owners in a box asking for help, owners in a box reading and food inside the box. The experiment involved the dog having to open the door of the box to get to its owner or the food.
In the first case, 20 of the pets managed to save their owners, who although they could ask for help – they were taught to make it sound credible – they could not call their pet by name. In addition, they presented similar levels of stress to their owner, which is known as “emotional contagion”.
“About one-third of the dogs rescued their distressed owner, which doesn’t sound very impressive on its own, but it really is impressive when you look closely,” says psychologist Joshua Van Bourg of Arizona State University. Although only 20 dogs were able to save their friends, the proportion of dogs who wanted to do so was actually much higher, the psychologist notes. The problem was that they didn’t know how to do it.