They may be naughty when they chew up slippers or shed hair on the sofa, but dogs' ability to recognise when their owners are angry and quickly diffuse the situation far outstrips human ability to resolve disputes, a new book has claimed.
And while many human leaders assert their authority by being confrontational and argumentative, the top dog in a pack is invariably the most patient and least aggressive, according to the book, Clever Dog: Life Lessons From Man's Best Friend penned by Ryan O'Meara.
"The dog in many respects is able to deceive its owners into making them believe what they want to believe, in order to avoid any trouble. When you come home and the post has all been chewed up, the owner will immediately blame the dog. The dog will invariably give that hang dog look and the owner will say 'he knows what he's done, he feels guilty.
"Guilt is a very complex emotion and I don't think a dog can feel guilty, but what they can do it instantly recognise their owner is upset with them and go into that submissive mode because they know it will work. The owner sees all these positive signals and there is no dispute," The Daily Telegraph quoted the author as saying.
O'Meara said that, unlike with humans, the dogs that rise to the top of the pack do so by showing similar traits of patience and submission.
He said, "The dogs who lead all have this trait --they do not go around biting the other dogs, they are always the quietest and tolerate the most amount of nonsense from puppies. This isn't always the case with people."
"People at the top often feel they have to shout and point the finger because they think they have a point to prove. Nobody can have a row when there's a dog there. It has this ability to make everything seem less serious."