Can dogs exhibit politeness?
I come from a science background and in general am very skeptical of anthropomorphic claims that people make about their pets.
I also have considerable experience with training my own dogs and of helping to rehabilitate rescued dogs.
Here's what I have noticed:
My previous dog, a Border Collie, and my present dog, a Papillon both have shown signs of what seems almost like politeness.
A dog who is not thirsty will pass by a drinking bowl and not drink, even if the bowl is indicated by the person.
However if the person offers a bowl by hand, some dogs (including two of mine) who are not thirsty, will take a token sip before turning away. This contrasts with young children who will turn their head or even body away if offered something they don't want.
With my Papillon, she will also accept treats that she doesn't want. She will hold them in her mouth for a short while and then drop them - sometimes after the person has stopped taking notice.
Being a natural skeptic, I find it difficult to admit to myself that this could be some form of politeness or placatory behaviour and yet I can't think of an obvious alternative.
Have others noticed this phenomenon and if so, do you have an explanation?