Pet owners are more than willing to forgive their dogs for their mischief, no matter how many rugs they ruin or how loud they bark. One could argue, and successfully, that the entire species has been spoiled by human hands. That’s a real possibility based on some recent studies — which imply pretty strongly that dogs have gotten dumber thanks to their masters’ touch.

It’s a claim that makes sense. Domestication means that dogs form a bond with humans by default — but tests conducted at Oregon State University show that said bond takes as much as it gives. For comparison, ten wolves were tasked with finding a way to open a box and eat some sausage; eight of the ten tugged on the attached rope to reach that meat. Meanwhile, twenty dogs — ten pets, ten from shelters — had the same box presented to them. Only one of them got to eat the sausage, and most didn’t even try.

The conclusion drawn is that dogs have lost the majority of their problem-solving and critical thinking skills. Wolves and other animals are well off, since they have more opportunities to use their minds; given their cushy environments, dogs don’t have to think as long as their owners put everything within paw’s reach. It’s not exactly a flattering assessment, but it’s still forgivable as long as dogs keep their loyalty in working order.

Topics: news , animals , pets , science 2