Domestic dogs conceal auditory but not visual information from others
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- Bräuer, J., Keckeisen, M., Pitsch, A. et al. Anim Cogn (2013) 16: 351. doi:10.1007/s10071-012-0576-9
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A number of studies have shown that dogs are sensitive to a human’s perspective, but it remains unclear whether they use an egocentric strategy to assess what humans perceive. We investigated whether dogs know what a human can see and hear, even when the dogs themselves are unable to see the human. Dogs faced a task in which forbidden food was placed in a tunnel that they could retrieve by using their paw. Whereas the dogs could not see the experimenter during their food retrieval attempts, the experimenter could potentially see the dog’s paw. In the first experiment, dogs could choose between an opaque and a transparent side of the tunnel, and in the second experiment, they could choose between a silent and a noisy approach to the tunnel. The results showed that dogs preferred a silent approach to forbidden food but they did not hide their approach when they could not see a human present. We conclude that dogs probably rely on what they themselves can perceive when they assess what the human can see and hear.