Habituation and dishabituation during object play in kennel-housed dogs
- 780 Downloads
Domestic dogs are reported to show intense but transient neophilia towards novel objects. Here, we examine habituation and dishabituation to manipulable objects by kennel-housed dogs. Labrador retrievers (N = 16) were repeatedly presented with one toy for successive 30-s periods until interaction ceased. At this point (habituation), a different toy was presented that contrasted with the first in both colour and odour (since the dog’s saliva would have accumulated on the first), colour alone, or odour alone. No effect of the type of contrast was detected in the number of presentations to habituation, the difference in duration of interaction between the first presentation of the first toy and the presentation of the second toy (recovery), or the duration of interaction with the second toy (dishabituation). Varying the time interval between successive presentations of the first toy up to habituation between 10 s and 10 min had no effect on the number of presentations to habituation, nor did it alter the extent of dishabituation. Varying the delay from habituation to presentation of the second toy, between 10 s and 15 min, affected neither the recovery nor the dishabituation. Overall, the study indicates that loss of interest in the object during object-orientated play in this species is due to habituation to the overall stimulus properties of the toy rather than to any single sensory modality and is also atypical in its insensitivity to the interval between presentations.
KeywordsDomestic dog Habituation Dishabituation Object play
The authors would like to thank the BBSRC and WALTHAM® Centre for Pet Nutrition for funding the project (studentship to AJP). We are also grateful to WCPN for providing the facilities and dogs to enable the research to be undertaken.
Conflict of interest
Ralph Merrill is an employee of the WALTHAM® Centre for Pet Nutrition. Anne Pullen was in receipt of a studentship partially funded by the WALTHAM® Centre for Pet Nutrition. John Bradshaw has no financial relationship with either of the bodies that sponsored the research.
Approval was obtained from the University of Bristol Ethics Committee for all the experiments described in this paper. As part of this process, confirmation was obtained that none of the procedures used required a licence from the UK Home Office.
- Bradshaw JWS, Brown SL (1990) Behavioural adaptations of dogs to domestication. In: Burger IH (ed.) Pets, benefits and practice. Waltham symposium, vol 20. BVA Publications, London, pp 18–24Google Scholar
- Coppinger R, Schneider R (1995) Evolution of working dogs. In: Serpell J (ed) The domestic dog: Its evolution, behaviour and interactions with people. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 21–47Google Scholar
- Feddersen-Petersen DU (2008) Social behaviour of dogs and related canids. In: Jensen P (ed) The behavioural biology of the dog. CABI International, Wallingford, pp 105–119Google Scholar
- Glanzer M (1953) Stimulus satiation: an explanation of spontaneous alternation and related phenomena. Psychol Rev 60:257–268Google Scholar
- Horwitz D, Mills D, Heath S (eds) (2002) BSAVA manual of canine and feline behavioural medicine. BSAVA, WallingfordGoogle Scholar
- Loveridge GG (1998) Environmentally enriched dog housing. Appl Anim Behav Sci 59:101–113Google Scholar
- Pullen AJ (2011) Behavioural indicators of candidate enrichments for kennel housed dogs. PhD thesis, University of BristolGoogle Scholar
- Welker WI (1961) An analysis of exploratory and play behavior in animals. In: Fiskem DW, Maddi SR (eds) Functions of varied experience. Homewood IL, Dorsey, pp 175–226Google Scholar
- Wells DL (2004a) The influence of toys on the behaviour and welfare of kennelled dogs. Anim Welf 13:367–373Google Scholar