#2. Dogs Understand Pointing
This is another one that might sound completely obvious to your arrogant, top-of-the-food-chain brain, but the fact of the matter is that dogs and humans are the only two species currently clinging to our big blue spaceball who understand the point of pointing. Pointing is much more complicated than it seems. Even after extensive training, chimps, our closest relatives on the evolutionary family tree, don't really "get" it. But dogs do, because evolution has conditioned them to understand that when humans point, 1) humans have a separate perspective than they do, 2) that perspective is usually helpful, and, most importantly, 3) that perspective is almost always trustworthy. We already covered how dogs understand our different visual fields, and that they trust our judgment, so it follows that a dog would understand that our perspective is probably helpful -- if going after a point never got them anywhere, evolutionarily speaking, they wouldn't follow it today. But paying attention to pointing humans has resulted in a net gain of literally millions of pounds of loose hamburger meat over the millennia, and that's a pretty good track record.
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Plus a net loss of millions of balls, but those dogs never pass on their genes.
Perhaps most amazingly, dogs are so sensitive to our directional cues that they can follow our intent even if we're not actually pointing. Getting your dog's attention and then looking fixedly at an object without saying anything is all it takes for a dog to know you're thinking about that object. Be careful with your newfound powers: The next time you're out for a walk and you turn to studiously observe a fine behind passing by, if you catch Fido's eye first, you might be subconsciously telling him that it's delicious.
So only ogle douches.
#1. Dogs Know When You Like Someone Else More
You and your dog are out for a lovely evening's jaunt, full of exercise and pooping, when you pass by another canine. You innocently reach down to pet the critter, and your own dog suddenly leaps into action, trapping all of you inside an inescapable leash-cocoon of constrictor knots. That's an interesting reaction for a dog to have, seeing as how dogs were long thought to be incapable of jealousy. Scientists separate emotions into two categories: primary emotions such as fear and anger, which are experienced pretty much across the board, and secondary emotions such as guilt and jealousy, which are thought to require self-consciousness. And self-consciousness is an exclusive, primates-only club (opposable thumbs, black tie, a fine appreciation of masturbation, all that jazz).
Unless he tied it himself, while jerking off, it means nothing. Right?
Scientists eventually set out to prove the theory by seating pairs of dogs next to each other and then asking them to perform the same trick; upon successful completion of said trick, one dog was rewarded and one was not. After a few rounds, they found something surprising: The unrewarded dog stopped performing the trick, even showing clear signs of stress and annoyance.
Interesting. But that might simply demonstrate that dogs understand fairness, not necessarily jealousy, right? Well, dog owners disagree, and they just won't friggin' shut up about it. They point out that dogs have the very same love- and jealousy-related hormone as we humans (oxytocin), and frequently show themselves to be capable of some pretty intense envy. Mothers of litters will sometimes become jealous of their own puppies because the cute little bastards are stealing all the attention -- and if the owners aren't careful, the bitch might even begin to display aggressive behavior toward her own offspring. Admittedly, that's anecdotal evidence, but still: What other creature would turn on her own children because it just loves its master more?
That's some Game of Thrones shit right there.
Liz Emery is a seven-brothered sapiosexual who has been a waitress, dental assistant, auction house secretary, janitor, car saleswoman, and other neat things. You can read all about them here.
Related Reading: Dogs are awesome, but did you know they sometimes shoot us with guns? That's shocking, but not nearly as shocking as the fact that a canine soldier ran telephone wire under rubble during a battle to save hundreds of men. Still need more crazy facts about your favorite four-legged, constantly farting species? Read on.