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Would Your Dog Rescue You? Scientists Made a Test to Find Out

Inside every dog there’s a hero waiting to be unleashed, or at least, that’s what we’d like to believe about our canine companions. New research suggests dogs truly want to rescue us when we’re in a bad situation, but they have to know how to help.From Lassie and The Littlest Hobo to Bolt and Paw Patrol, we have this idea in our heads that dogs want to rescue owners in distress, and that they have a natural predisposition to be altruistic. “It’s a pervasive legend,” Joshua Van Bourg, a grad student at Arizona State University and a co-author of the new study, said in a press release. “Simply observing dogs rescuing someone doesn’t tell you much. The difficult challenge is figuring out why they do it.”Indeed, domesticated dogs are immensely helpful, but their motivations are still poorly understood, including the degree to which we can say they’re acting with prosocial or empathetic intent. Van Bourg’s new paper, published in PLOS One, suggests dogs are sufficiently motivated to rescue owners in distress, especially when they know how to do it. At the same time, however, the new study still leaves us wondering if their heroic actions are prosocially motivated or if their behaviors are driven by other factors. To determine the degree to which dogs are predisposed
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