Domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) coordinate their actions in a problem-solving task
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- Bräuer, J., Bös, M., Call, J. et al. Anim Cogn (2013) 16: 273. doi:10.1007/s10071-012-0571-1
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Cooperative hunting is a cognitively challenging activity since individuals have to coordinate movements with a partner and at the same time react to the prey. Domestic dogs evolved from wolves, who engage in cooperative hunting regularly, but it is not clear whether dogs have kept their cooperative hunting skills. We presented pairs of dogs with a reward behind a fence with two openings in it. A sliding door operated by the experimenter could block one opening but not both simultaneously. The dogs needed to coordinate their actions, so that each was in front of a different opening, if one of them was to cross through and get food. All 24 dog pairs solved the problem. In study 1, we demonstrated that dogs understood how the apparatus worked. In study 2, we found that, although the performance of the pairs did not depend on the divisibility of the reward, pairs were quicker at coordinating their actions when both anticipated rewards. However, the dogs did not monitor one another, suggesting that their solutions were achieved by each individual attempting to maximize for itself.