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Selfless dogs give food for thought

Monday December 21st 2015

Research has found that dogs will act selflessly to help their fellow mutts get food, especially if the two pooches know each other.

The study, involving 16 dogs, proves that canines are part of an elite group of animals that displays this kind of prosocial behaviour. These include primates, rats, monkeys and crows.

The experiments involved a series of ropes, trays and food. Researchers taught donor pooches to move trays by pulling ropes so that they arrived at a neighbour receiver dog. Then food came into the equation and two alternatives were given to the donor dogs.

They could either pull the rope, which moved the food tray and delivered a snack to a dog nearby, while they went without. Or they could pull a tray with nothing on it, which left both dogs without food.

The results, published in Nature Scientific Reports, showed that donor dogs became far more liable to move food trays to help feed other dogs if they already knew them, especially if they lived with them.

Copyright Press Association 2015