“Equal Work Equal Pay” Say Dogs
A recent study by scientists in Austria show that humans are not the only ones with a sense of equal rights.
The PNAS report details how a group of dogs were hand selected for their willingness to paw (the doggie equivalent to a handshake). The group of willing participants were then grouped into pairs, and the not so willing sent home – along with a border collie who was more interested in herding the other dogs.
The dog pairs were then presented with a plate of treats. One side had pieces of bread while the other side had pieces of sausage. Each dog could see the rewards, and could see what rewards the other dog in the pair was given. The different pairs were then given different scenarios.
After being asked to “paw” one test group rewarded one dog but not the other. The dog that did not receive a reward for its action, but watched the other dog get rewarded, refused to participate again.
This suggests that dogs understand fair play and fair pay. Jealous dogs will not respond to commands and this could be an indication of why your dogs are not obedient. Is your disobedient dog the victim of favouritism?
Another test group rewarded each dog, but one dog only got the bread treats while the other dog got sausage treats. The dogs getting the bread treats did not refuse to participate because they were paid less. However, a similar test with monkeys where they could see a better reward than what they were getting resulted in a boycott.
The phenomenon known as “inequity aversion” where we recognise that a situation is unfair or at least unequal is obvious in people because we can articulate our feelings. People leave jobs or protest because they are not getting equal pay for equal work. Children fight because a sibling got a certain toy or treat and they did not.
Now we find out that our pets are equally affected by inequity aversion. Although they may not have been able to articulate their feelings as well, it seems they do demonstrate behavior which when properly understood is screaming “Unfair! Equal Pay For Equal Work!”
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