Is previous experience important for inhibitory control? A comparison between shelter and pet dogs in A-not-B and cylinder tasks
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This study compares the performance of two groups of dogs with different levels of social interaction with humans, shelter and pet dogs, in two inhibitory control tasks. (1) In the A-not-B task, dogs were required to resist searching for food in a previously rewarded location, and (2) in the cylinder task, dogs were required to resist approaching visible food directly in favor of a detour reaching response. Our first aim was to evaluate the importance of learning and ontogeny in performing inhibitory tasks. Also, we assessed whether there is a correlation between the two tasks by comparing performance in the same subjects. Results showed significant differences between shelter and pet dogs in the A-not-B task, with poorer performance in shelter dogs. However, no differences were found in the cylinder task. The poorer performance of shelter dogs might be related to their infrequent interaction with humans, which reduces the chances to learn to inhibit certain behaviors. This result would highlight the importance of ontogeny in developing that ability. On the other hand, no correlations were found between the two tasks, which contributes information to the debate about the context specificity of inhibitory control in dogs.
KeywordsShelter dogs Inhibitory control Learning A-not-B task Cylinder task
This research was supported by CONICET and AGENCIA (PICT 2010, number 38020). We would like to express our special gratitude to dogs shelter “Soplo de Vida” and specially Alan Kaminsky for their collaboration. Also, we want to express thanks to Gisela Rugna, Victoria Dzik, and Camila Cavalli for helping during data collection. Finally, we appreciate the collaboration of Dr. Claudio Pereira, and all the owners who kindly allowed their dogs to participate in these studies.
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