Animal Cognition

, Volume 22, Issue 2, pp 243–250 | Cite as

Pet dogs exhibit social preference for people who synchronize with them: what does it tell us about the evolution of behavioral synchronization?

  • Charlotte DurantonEmail author
  • Thierry Bedossa
  • Florence Gaunet
Original Paper


Humans show greater affiliation with people who are behaviorally synchronized with them but little is known about the impact of synchronization at an interspecific level. We, therefore, explored whether the synchronization of humans with dogs affects dogs’ human preferences. Pet dogs were exposed to two unfamiliar persons: one synchronized her walking behavior with them and one walked randomly. In a preference test, molossoids exhibited a clear social preference for the synchronized person, unlike shepherds. We conclude that pet dogs show a greater affiliation with humans who mimic their walking behavior, although genetic selection modulates this propensity. Behavioral synchronization, therefore, acts as a social glue in dogs too. It is the first time that such a human-like ability has been highlighted in domesticated canids at an interspecific level. Implications for the evolution of behavioral synchronization are discussed.


Doghuman synchronization Preference test Behavioral synchrony Interspecific synchronization Dog mimicry 



The authors are grateful to Célicia Lecomte for her drawings and Elodie Losserand for the reliability coding. We are also grateful to Dr. Jessica Rock for her helpful edits and suggestions. We finally thank the owners who volunteered to take part in the study. This work was funded by the National Association for Research and Technology, the Help for Old Animals (AVA) association, the French National Center for Scientific Research, and Aix-Marseille University.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cognitive Psychology Laboratory (UMR 7290), 3C Research FederationAix-Marseille University, CNRSMarseilles Cedex 03France
  2. 2.AVA AssociationCuy-Saint-FiacreFrance
  3. 3.Alfort National Veterinary SchoolMaisons-AlfortFrance
  4. 4.Ethodog, Research in Canine EthologyMaisons-LaffitteFrance

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