How Loyal Are Dogs? Your Canine BFF Loves You So Much He'll Ignore Someone Who's Mean To You

How loyal are dogs? According to a recent study, the answer is somewhere between "middle school BFF" and "cult follower" — because apparently dogs know when someone is mean to you. It's good to know that Fido is on our side, but let's make sure we use that power wisely.

Japanese researchers devised a role-playing scenarios for 18 dogs, and in all three conditions, the dog's owner needed help opening a box while accompanied by two people. In one group, the owner asked for help and received it; in another, their pleas for assistance were callously rebuffed. (OK, so it might not have been that dramatic, but either way, the dog's owner was shot down.) In the meantime, the third member of the group stood by neutrally as a control.

After the owner managed to open the box, with or without help, the two strangers approached the dog and offered food. Even I, an avowed cat person, understand that dogs really love food, but according to the results of the study, there is one thing that supersedes their adoration of people food: their owners. Dogs whose owners got help or didn't interact with the other two people didn't have any specific pattern for whether they accepted the food or not. In contrast, dogs whose owners were actively turned down were much more likely to accept food from the neutral party and ignore the advances of the person who rebuffed their owner.

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Researchers claim that this indicates the capacity for social cooperation, which most animals don't display. "We discovered for the first time that dogs make social and emotional evaluations of people regardless of their direct interest," lead researcher Kazuo Fujita told Yahoo News.

Who knew that your dog would be a better friend than your supposed BFF in high school? That's not the only way your dog might surprise you, though. Allow me to introduce you to four other weird behaviors you never knew your dog did behind your back.

1. They can have separation anxiety.

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You've probably heard your dog whining as you leave her behind forever (or, you know, go running for an hour), but did you know that her distress continues while you're away? Separation anxiety in dogs is a real phenomenon, and it can get so extreme that they injure themselves. Luckily, it's relatively easy to fix.

2. They hate other dogs sometimes.

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Sometimes, dogs don't just hate people who are mean to you. According to CBS News, if a dog is raised exclusively by humans, it can sometimes come to view other dogs as aliens.

3. They do that "turning around and around and around" thing for a reason.

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Chances are you've seen your dog turn around a few times before laying down. You might have chalked it up to dogs just being weird, but according to researchers, it has evolutionary roots. Not only does the move flatten grass to make the area more comfortable, but one hypothesis claims that it also exposes any hazards like snakes or bugs.

4. They suck their flanks.

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Much like a kid who sucks his thumb into elementary school, dogs sometimes suck on their own thighs or nearby objects like blankets well into adulthood. Weirdly enough, flank sucking especially common in Dobermans.

Dogs are pretty weird sometimes. It's a good thing they're cute.

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