Dogs Ignore People Who Don’t Help Their Masters, Study Finds

August 29, 2015

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. ignore /ɪgˈnɔr/ (v.) – to refuse to notice
Example: His cat ignored him when he arrived home.

2. interact /ˌɪn tərˈækt/ (v.) – to talk or do things with one another
Example: I can’t interact well with dogs because I’m scared of them.

3. stranger /ˈstreɪn dʒər/ (n.) – a person one hasn’t met before
Example: Don’t talk to strangers.

4. habit /ˈhæb ɪt/ (n.) – something done regularly or repeatedly
Example: He has a habit of whistling when he is bored.

5. master /ˈmæs tər/ (n.) – the owner of a pet
Example:  The kittens have a new master.


Read the text below.
Dogs tend to ignore people who refuse to help their masters, a recent study found.

Researchers from Kyoto University conducted a study to see if dogs are able to evaluate the way people interact with each other. The researchers gathered three groups of 18 dogs along with their owners. Each group was asked to act out a scene, which revolved around the owner having difficulty in opening a box.

In the first group, the owner asked help from a stranger but was turned down. In the second group, the owner also asked for help in opening the box and was assisted by a stranger. In both groups, there was a “neutral person” who sat next to the owner but did not participate in anything.

In the third group—the control group—the owner did not pay attention to both the stranger and the neutral person. These two then offered a treat to the dog after the scene was acted out.

Results of the experiment showed that the dogs avoided the stranger who did not help their owners. Surprisingly, the dogs took food from the neutral person. However, there was no difference in the number of times the dogs took food from the one who helped, the neutral person, and the ones from the control group. 

While the study suggests that dogs may understand human social interaction, Cesar Millan of Dog Whisperer warns owners of the effects of treating dogs like humans. In his article, he enumerated habits that owners should not do with their dogs. These include communicating through words, treating dogs like children, not giving them things to do, and being the dogs’ playmate instead of being the master.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Are some dogs in your country treated like humans? In what ways?
·         Why do you think researchers take a lot of interest in dogs?

Discussion B

·         What are your thoughts about people who refuse to help other people?
·         Why do you think some people refuse to help others?

August 29, 2015