Turns out female dogs might have a leg up on males when it comes to detecting the unexpected.
In an experiment designed to mess with their furry heads, females took note of a surprising outcome while males apparently remained oblivious.
The team designed an experiment to test whether the dogs would notice a ball that inexplicably grew or shrank.
In some trials, for instance, a tennis ball-sized ball would roll behind a screen, and after a short wait, a larger ball would appear on the other side. (Young babies don’t seem to notice this violation of how the world normally works, but start to react to the weirdness during the first year of life.)
The researchers can’t tell if males really don’t perceive the difference, or do detect it but don't care.
Whether a dog had been neutered didn’t seem to make a difference in the experiment.
One neuroscientist noted that females need to effectively nurture offspring, and that might have provided very strong pressure to set up this behavioral difference.