Effect of training and familiarity on responsiveness to human cues in domestic dogs (Canis familiaris)

Clare L. Cunningham, Mari F. Ramos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Citations (Scopus)
81 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) seem to possess an evolved competency to follow human-given cues, often out-performing their wild progenitor the wolf (Canis lupus) on cue-following tasks. However, domestication may not be solely responsible for the socio-cognitive skills of dogs, with ontogenetic experience also playing a role. This research evaluated the effects of intensive training on cue-following behaviour using an unreinforced object-choice paradigm. The responses of dogs that were trained to competitive levels were compared to those of pet dogs with only basic training, and dogs living in an animal shelter that demonstrated no or only rudimentary following of basic commands. Using a cue-following task where three types of cues were presented by familiar and unfamiliar human partners, the number of cues followed by each training group were recorded. All dogs found cues where gesture was combined with a congruent head and eye movement easier to follow than either gesture or eye gaze alone. Whether the cue-giver was familiar or not had a significant effect on number of cues followed in homed dogs, and the performance of shelter dogs was comparable to the other groups when faced with an unfamiliar cue-giver. Contrary to predictions, level of training did not improve performance on the cue-following task. This work does provide support for the presence of an evolved adaptation to exploit social cues provided by humans that can be augmented by familiarity with the cue giver. However, additional joint activity as experienced in an intensive training regime does not seem to increase accuracy in following human-given cues.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)805–814
Number of pages10
JournalAnimal Cognition
Volume17
Issue number3
Early online date7 Dec 2013
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2014

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familiarity
Cues
Dogs
dogs
Gestures
eyes
Recognition (Psychology)
effect
dog
domestication
Canis lupus
shelter
wolves
pets
Head Movements
Pets
Eye Movements
prediction

Cite this

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abstract = "Domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) seem to possess an evolved competency to follow human-given cues, often out-performing their wild progenitor the wolf (Canis lupus) on cue-following tasks. However, domestication may not be solely responsible for the socio-cognitive skills of dogs, with ontogenetic experience also playing a role. This research evaluated the effects of intensive training on cue-following behaviour using an unreinforced object-choice paradigm. The responses of dogs that were trained to competitive levels were compared to those of pet dogs with only basic training, and dogs living in an animal shelter that demonstrated no or only rudimentary following of basic commands. Using a cue-following task where three types of cues were presented by familiar and unfamiliar human partners, the number of cues followed by each training group were recorded. All dogs found cues where gesture was combined with a congruent head and eye movement easier to follow than either gesture or eye gaze alone. Whether the cue-giver was familiar or not had a significant effect on number of cues followed in homed dogs, and the performance of shelter dogs was comparable to the other groups when faced with an unfamiliar cue-giver. Contrary to predictions, level of training did not improve performance on the cue-following task. This work does provide support for the presence of an evolved adaptation to exploit social cues provided by humans that can be augmented by familiarity with the cue giver. However, additional joint activity as experienced in an intensive training regime does not seem to increase accuracy in following human-given cues.",
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Effect of training and familiarity on responsiveness to human cues in domestic dogs (Canis familiaris). / Cunningham, Clare L.; Ramos, Mari F.

In: Animal Cognition, Vol. 17, No. 3, 05.2014, p. 805–814.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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