Animal Cognition

, 11:373 | Cite as

Comprehension of human pointing gestures in young human-reared wolves (Canis lupus) and dogs (Canis familiaris)

  • Zsófia Virányi
  • Márta Gácsi
  • Enikő Kubinyi
  • József Topál
  • Beatrix Belényi
  • Dorottya Ujfalussy
  • Ádám Miklósi
Original Paper

Abstract

Dogs have a remarkable skill to use human-given cues in object-choice tasks, but little is known to what extent their closest wild-living relative, the wolf can achieve this performance. In Study 1, we compared wolf and dog pups hand-reared individually and pet dogs of the same age in their readiness to form eye-contact with a human experimenter in an object-choice task and to follow her pointing gesture. The results showed that dogs already at 4 months of age use momentary distal pointing to find hidden food even without intensive early socialization. Wolf pups, on the contrary, do not attend to this subtle pointing. Accordingly in Studies 2 and 3, these wolves were tested longitudinally with this and four other (easier) human-given cues. This revealed that wolves socialized at a comparable level to dogs are able to use simple human-given cues spontaneously if the human’s hand is close to the baited container (e.g. touching, proximal pointing). Study 4 showed that wolves can follow also momentary distal pointing similarly to dogs if they have received extensive formal training. Comparing the wolves to naïve pet dogs of the same age revealed that during several months of formal training wolves can reach the level of dogs in their success of following momentary distal pointing in parallel with improving their readiness to form eye-contact with a human experimenter. We assume that the high variability in the wolves’ communicative behaviour might have provided a basis for selection during the course of domestication of the dog.

Keywords

Wolf Dog Object-choice task Human pointing Eye-contact Socialization 

References

  1. Agnetta B, Hare B, Tomasello M (2000) Cues to food locations that domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) of different ages do and do not use. Anim Cogn 3:107–112CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Anderson JR, Sallaberry P, Barbier H (1995) Use of experimenter-given cues during object-choice tasks by capuchin monkeys. Anim Behav 49:201–208CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Call J, Tomasello M (1994) Production and comprehension of referential pointing by orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus). J Comp Psych 108:307–317CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Carpenter M, Tomasello M, Savage-Rumbaugh S (1995) Joint attention and imitative learning in children chimpanzees and enculturated chimpanzees. Soc Dev 4:217–237CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Csányi V (2000) The ‘human behaviour complex’ and the compulsion of communication: key factors of human evolution. Semiotica 128:45–60CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Donald M (1991) Origins of the modern mind. Harvard University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  7. Fentress JC (1967) Observations on the behavioral development of a hand-reared male timber wolf. Am Zool 7:339–351Google Scholar
  8. Frank H, Frank MG (1982) Comparison of problem-solving performance in six-week-old wolves and dogs. Anim Behav 30:95–98CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Frank H, Frank MG (1987) The University of Michigan canine information-processing project (1979–1981). In: Frank H (ed) Man and wolf: advances, issues and problems in captive wolf research. W. Junk, Dordrecht, pp 143–167Google Scholar
  10. Frank H, Frank MG, Hasselbach LM, Littleton DM (1989) Motivation and insight in wolf (Canis lupus) and Alaskan malamute (Canis familiaris): visual discrimination learning. Bull Psychonom Soc 27:455–458Google Scholar
  11. Gácsi M, Győri B, Miklósi Á, Virányi Zs, Kubinyi E, Topál J, Csányi V (2005) Species-specific differences and similarities in the behavior of hand raised dog and wolf puppies in social situations with humans. Dev Psychobiol 47:111–122PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gomez JC (1996) Ostensive behaviour in great apes: the role of eye contact. In: Russon AE, Parker ST, Bard K (eds) Reaching into thought. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 131–151Google Scholar
  13. Hare B, Tomasello M (2005) Human-like social skills in dogs? Trends Cogn Sci 9:439–444PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Hare B, Call J, Agnetta B, Tomasello M (2000) Chimpanzees know what conspecifics do and do not see. Anim Behav 59:771–785PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hare B, Brown M, Williamson C, Tomasello M (2002) The domestication of cognition in dogs. Science 298:1634–1636PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hare B, Plyusnina I, Ignacio N, Schepina O, Stepika A, Wrangham R, Trut L (2005) Social cognitive evolution in captive foxes is a correlated by-product of experimental domestication. Curr Biol 15:226–230PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Kamil AC (1998) On the proper definition of cognitive ethology. In: Balda RP, Pepperberg IM, Kamil AC (eds) Animal cognition in nature. Academic Press, San Diego, pp 1–29CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kaminski J, Riedel J, Call J, Tomasello M (2005) Domestic goats (Capra hircus) follow gaze direction and use some social cues in an object choice task. Anim Behav 69:11–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Klinghammer E, Goodmann PA (1987) Socialization and management of wolves in captivity. In: Frank H (ed) Man and wolf: advances, issues and problems in captive wolf research. W. Junk, Dordrecht, pp 31–61Google Scholar
  20. Lefebvre L (1995) Ecological correlates of social learning problems and solutions for the comparative method. Behav Proc 35:163–171CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Maros K, Gácsi M, Miklósi Á (2007) Comprehension of human pointing gestures in horses (Equus caballus). Anim Cogn (in press)Google Scholar
  22. Mignon-Grasteau S, Boissy A, Bouix J, Faure J, Fisher AD, Hinch GN, Jensen P, Le Neindre P, Mormede P, Prunet P, Vandeputte M, Beaumont C (2005) Genetics of adaptation and domestication in livestock. Livestock Prod Sci 93:3–14CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. McKinley J, Sambrook TD (2000) Use of human-given cues by domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) and horses (Equus caballus). Anim Cogn 3:13-22CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Miklósi Á, Soproni K (2006) Comprehension of the human pointing gesture in animals: a comparative approach. Anim Cogn 9:81–93PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Miklósi Á, Polgárdi R, Topál J, Csányi V (1998) Use of experimenter given cues in dogs. Anim Cogn 1:113–121CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Miklósi Á, Polgárdi R, Topál J, Csányi V (2000) Intentional behaviour in dog-human communication: an experimental analysis of ‘showing’ behaviour in the dog. Anim Cogn 3:159–166CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Miklósi Á, Kubinyi E, Topál J, Gácsi M, Virányi Zs, Csányi V (2003) A simple reason for a big difference: wolves do not look back at humans, but dogs do. Curr Biol 13:763–766PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Miklósi Á, Pongrácz P, Lakatos G, Topál J, Csányi V (2005) A comparative study of dog–human and cat–human interactions in communicative contexts. J Comp Psych 119:179–186CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Miliken GA, Johnson DE (1992) Analysis of messy data. Volume 1: designed experiments. Van Nostrand Reinhold, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  30. Murphy JV, Miller RE (1955) The effect of spatial contiguity of cue and reward in the object-quality learning of rhesus monkeys. J Comp Physiol Psychol 48:221–224PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Pack AA, Herman LM (2004) Bottlenosed dolphins (Tursiops trunctaus) comprehend the referent of both static and dynamic human gazing and pointing in an object-choice task. J Comp Psychol 118:160–171PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Pongrácz P, Miklósi Á, Kubinyi E, Gurobi K, Topál J, Csányi V (2001) Social learning in dogs I. The effect of a human demonstrator on the performance of dogs (Canis familiaris) in a detour task. Anim Behav 62:1109–1117CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Povinelli DJ, Reaux JE, Bierschwale DT, Allain AD, Simon BB (1997) Exploitation of pointing as a referential gesture in young children, but not adolescent chimpanzees. Cogn Devel 12:423-461CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Price EO (1999) Behavioral development in animals undergoing domestication. Appl Anim Behav Sci 65:245–271CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Riedel J, Schumann K, Kaminski J, Call J, Tomasello M (2007) The early ontogeny of human-dog communication. Anim Behav (in press)Google Scholar
  36. Scheumann M, Call J (2004) The use of experimenter given cues by South African fur seals (Arctocephalus pusillus). Anim Cogn 7:224–231PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Shapiro AD, Janik VM, Slater PJB (2003) Gray seal (Halichoerus grypus) pup responses to experimental-given pointing and directional cues. J Comp Psychol 117:355–362PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Soproni K, Miklósi Á, Topál J, Csányi V (2001) Comprehension of human communicative signs in pet dogs. J Comp Psych 115:122–126CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Soproni K, Miklósi Á, Topál J, Csányi V (2002) Dogs’ (Canis familiaris) responsiveness to human pointing gestures. J Comp Psychol 116:27–34PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Tomasello M (1995) Joint attention as social cognition. In: Moore C, Dunham P (eds) Joint attention: its origins and role in development. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Hillsdale, pp 103–130Google Scholar
  41. Topál J, Miklósi Á, Csányi V (1997) Dog–human relationship affects problem solving ability in the dog. Anthrozoös 10:214–224Google Scholar
  42. Topál J, Gácsi M, Miklósi Á, Virányi Zs, Kubinyi E, Csányi V (2005) The effect of domestication and socialization on attachment to human: A comparative study on hand reared wolves and differently socialized dog puppies. Anim Behav 70:1367–1375CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Trevarthen C (1979) Communication, cooperation in early infancy. In: Bullowa M (ed) Before speech: the beginnings of human communication. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 321–347Google Scholar
  44. Virányi ZS, Gácsi M, Kubinyi E, Kurys A, Miklósi Á, Csányi V (2002) Wolf–human interactions: flight, approach and greeting behaviour toward familiar and unfamiliar humans in hand-reared wolf pups (Canis lupus). In: Dehnhard M, Hofer H (eds) Advances in ethology 37 (supplements to ethology). Blackwell, Berlin, p 83Google Scholar
  45. Zeder MA, Emshwiller E, Smith BD, Bradley DG (2006) Documenting domestication: the intersection of genetics and archaeology. Trends Gen 22:139–155CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zsófia Virányi
    • 1
  • Márta Gácsi
    • 1
  • Enikő Kubinyi
    • 1
  • József Topál
    • 2
  • Beatrix Belényi
    • 1
  • Dorottya Ujfalussy
    • 1
  • Ádám Miklósi
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EthologyEötvös Loránd UniversityBudapestHungary
  2. 2.Comparative Ethology Research GroupHungarian Academy of SciencesBudapestHungary

Personalised recommendations