Jose Ahonen, a magician, made treats vanish directly in front of the dogs’ eyes. It seems that Dogs understood that a treat had been there and that it must still be nearby. Their behaviors indicated that they were aware that the treat vanished.
The dogs’ usual reaction was to glance down at the ground as though the reward had fallen. Most dogs are presumably used to finding a dropped reward, so they were employing a search method that had previously worked. Many of the dogs began sniffing and investigating their surroundings. Another common reaction was to gaze at Jose or towards the camera, where the guardian and camera operator may be. When dogs are perplexed, they frequently seek information or assistance from people.
This is something they see in training or when a toy has rolled somewhere unreachable, so it’s not strange for dogs to be unsure where the treat went through this. Many dogs pawed at Jose’s hands, which is such a typical response to a closed fist holding a treat that I’ve used it to teach a dog to “Shake” or “High-5.”
These videos of dogs performing magic tricks are for entertainment purposes only and are not controlled experiments. The fragrance of treats was still there, which could have alerted the dogs to the presence of the treats. Their acts do not prove that dogs are cognitively capable of object permanence, but they suggest it.
I wish I could watch a lengthier film of each dog since I’m curious how long they spent searching and whether they become more frustrated as time went on. It was reassuring to learn that each dog received a reward before and after the disappearing trick, which I’m sure helped to alleviate any anxiety over the missing treat. The laughter of the onlookers may have been the most upsetting element for several of the dogs. I believe dogs can sense when they are being mocked, which disturbs me. Still, it’s difficult not to chuckle when watching this.
What do you think your dog’s reaction would be if a magician made a treat vanish?