New Study Shows That Dogs Want To Rescue Their Owners If They’re In Trouble

As dog owners, we’re well aware that our dogs are extremely loyal to us. There isn’t any doubt in our minds that our dogs would be there to have our backs if we ever found ourselves in a sticky situation. Well, thanks to a scientific study, there is evidence to suggest that our sneaking suspicions may indeed be correct that our dogs would be willing to rescue us should we ever need them to. 

The study was conducted by two researchers at Arizona State University, and the study’s findings were published in the journal, PLOS ONE. According to AFP, the results showed that pets were indeed willing to come to their owners’ aid when presented with a certain scenario. 

As researcher Joshua Van Bourg went on to explain the study, it wasn’t focused so much on observing dogs rescue their owners, but more focused on figuring out the dogs’ motivations for acting in aid of their owners. 

During the study, Van Bourg, along with his co-researcher, Clive Wynne, set up 60 dogs and their owners in a fake scenario that required the dog to do some rescuing. Each owner was placed in a large box with a lightweight door that the dogs could then maneuver aside in order to “save” them. When the owners were in the box, they pretending to be in danger and needing help. The owners refrained from using their dog’s name in order to avoid polluting the study with the dogs acting out of obedience at hearing their name being called. 

The second key part of the study was for Van Bourg and Wynne to observe how many of the 60 dogs would open the door on food motivation, by placing food inside the box. As the results of the two tests ended up revealing, about one-third of the dogs managed to successfully rescue their owners. And roughly that same number also opened up the box to get the food.

That led the researchers to believe that the dogs could potentially find the task of rescue their owners just as rewarding as sniffing out food. Van Bourg went on to point out that looking more in-depth at the study only made the actions of the dogs that much more endearing.  

As he explained, “The key here is that without controlling for each dog’s understanding of how to open the box, the proportion of dogs who rescued their owners greatly underestimates the proportion of dogs who wanted to rescue their owners.” 

He further concluded that the fact that two-thirds of the dogs weren’t motivated by food may actually be a pretty good indicator that their actions to rescue their owners are actually rooted in something deeper, like a meaningful connection. 

The researcher continued, “If you look at only those 19 dogs that showed us they were able to open the door in the food test, 84 percent of them rescued their owners. So, most dogs want to rescue you, but they need to know how.”

Scientific proof that our dogs’ loyalty won’t waver when they think we’re in distress. That’s pretty comforting to know, don’t you think? Let us know what you think of the study’s results. 


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