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Dogs steal more in the dark, says new study. My cat suggests otherwise (+video)

German an British researchers – with a lot of food for bait – have concluded dogs steal more food in the dark. One dog-and-cat owner is skeptical: Cats may be framing the dogs.

By Lisa SuhayGuest Blogger / February 15, 2013

Dogs may be sneakier than humans thought, says a new study. This dog, Maymo, waited until his owners weren't around to start lunging at a head of cabbage left on the table.

A new study has just proved something every dog owner knows, be the dog Westminster-worthy, or household Heinz-57 mix breed, “Dogs steal in the dark.” I would add to that, cats steal 'round the clock while twitching their hind ends at you in broad daylight and don't care who knows it.

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Lisa Suhay, who has four sons at home in Norfolk, Va., is a children’s book author and founder of the Norfolk (Va.) Initiative for Chess Excellence (NICE) , a nonprofit organization serving at-risk youth via mentoring and teaching the game of chess for critical thinking and life strategies.

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It seems two issues that we can’t study enough are the misbehaviors of pets and children. While humans dog their kids on Facebook when they’re naughty, there’s now a popular website dedicated to shaming our dogs

Kidding aside, for only a moment, the study by Juliane Kaminski, University of Portsmouth, UK and Andrea Pitsch and Michael Tomasello, both of The Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology Leipzig, Germany deals with a series of experiments in which a human, a dog, and some food the dog was told not to touch, were placed in a room in various lighting conditions to see if the dog's obedience would alter.

Every dog had eight trials in each condition: human plus light, human minus light, light minus human and dark minus human. In all cases the food was present.

The conditions, according to the study were as follows: “The dogs had to pass a pre-test to participate in the study. This was conducted to ensure that the dogs understood the commands used by the experimenter. After the experimenter and the dog entered the room the experimenter took a piece of food, showed it to the dog, and walked to the predetermined location. Then the experimenter called the dog’s name to get his attention. While saying ‘Aus’ or ‘Nein’ (German: ‘Do not take it!’) with a strong, low-pitched voice she put the food on the ground at the marked position. 

The command was repeated as often as required – until the dog stopped trying to eat the food. Then the experimenter slowly walked backward and sat on the ground at the predetermined location. The trial ended after 60 seconds had elapsed without the dog taking the food. After the 60 seconds had elapsed, the dog was encouraged to take the food with the words ‘Geh ab!’ or ‘Jetzt nimm’s!’ (German for ‘You can take it now!’).”

They lost me right there because my dog, Wag, would just stare interestedly at my pointing finger, get bored and start licking himself inappropriately and then look up in astonishment when I'd say “Aus! Nein! No! Eeeeew!” in a low, firm, grossed-out tone.


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