Advertisement

Animal Cognition

, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 461–470 | Cite as

My owner, right or wrong: the effect of familiarity on the domestic dog’s behavior in a food-choice task

  • Amy Cook
  • Jennifer Arter
  • Lucia F. Jacobs
Original Paper

Abstract

Dogs are strongly influenced by human behavior, and they readily form bonds with specific humans. Yet these lines of inquiry are not often combined. The goal of this study was to investigate whether such bonds would play a role in how dogs behave in response to human signals. Using various types of signals, we compared dogs’ use of information from a familiar human (their owner) versus an unfamiliar human when choosing between two food containers. In some conditions, the owner indicated a container that gave food and a stranger indicated a container that did not; in other conditions, this was reversed. Dogs more often chose the container indicated by or nearest to their owner, even when this container never yielded a food reward. In two conditions, dogs chose at chance: a control condition in which both pointers were strangers and a condition in which the owner and stranger sat reading books and provided no social signal. This is the first study to directly compare owners to strangers in a single food-choice situation. Our results suggest that dogs make decisions by attending preferentially to social signals from humans with whom they have become familiar.

Keywords

Domestic dog Pointing Canis familiaris Social cognition Attachment 

Notes

Acknowledgments

We thank Kelly Dunbar, Sierra Eisen, Desiree Rogers, Susan Iyican, Anna Waismeyer, Mikel Delgado, and Aryn Hervel. We also thank the Committee on Research at the University of California, Berkeley; our dog participants and their people; and the University of California Chancellor’s Fellowship awarded to AC.

Conflict of interest

None.

References

  1. Bräuer J, Kaminski J, Riedel J, Call J, Tomasello M (2006) Making inferences about the location of hidden food: social dog, causal ape. J Comp Psychol 120(1):38–47PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Call J, Bräuer J, Kaminski J, Tomasello M (2003) Domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) are sensitive to the attentional state of humans. J Comp Psychol 117(3):257–263PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Clutton-Brock J (1995) Origins of the dog: domestication and early history. In: Serpell J (ed) The domestic dog: its evolution, behavior and interactions with people. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  4. Cooper JJ, Ashton C, Bishop S, West R, Mills DS, Young RJ (2003) Clever hounds: social cognition in the domestic dog (Canis familiaris). Appl Anim Behav Psy 81(3):229–244CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Coppinger R, Coppinger L (2001) Dogs: A startling new understanding of canine origin, behavior and evolution. NY, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  6. Elgier A, Jakovcevic A, Barrera G, Mustaca A (2009) Communication between domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) and humans: dogs are good learners. Behav Proc 81:402–408CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Erdohegyi Á, Topál J, Virányi Z, Miklósi Á (2007) Dog-logic: inferential reasoning in a two-way choice task and its restricted use. Anim Behav 74:725–737CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Gácsi M, Kara E, Belényi B, Topál J, Miklósi Á (2009) The effect of development and individual differences in pointing comprehension of dogs. Anim Cogn 12:471–479PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Gácsi M, Topál J, Miklósi A, Doka A, Csányi V (2001) Attachment behavior of adult dogs (Canis familiaris) living at rescue centers: forming new bonds. J Comp Psychol 114(4):423–431CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Gácsi M, Győri B, Miklósi Á, Virányi Z, Kubinyi E, Topál J, Csányi V (2005) Species-specific differences and similarities in the behavior of hand-raised dog and wolf pups in social situations with humans. Dev Psychobiol 47:111–122PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Gray MM, Sutter NB, Ostrander EA, Wayne RK (2010) The IGF1 small dog haplotype is derived from Middle Eastern grey wolves. Biology 8(16). doi: 10.1186/1741-7007-8-16
  12. Hare B, Tomasello M (2005) Human-like social skills in dogs? Trend Cog Sci 9:463–464CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Kubinyi E, Topál J, Miklósi A, Csányi V (2003) Dogs (Canis familiaris) learn from their owners via observation in a manipulation task. J Comp Psychol 117(2):156–165PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Kundey S, De Los Reyes A, Arbuthnot J, Allen R (2010) Domesticated dogs’(Canis familiaris) response to dishonest human points. Inter J Comp Psychol 23:201–215Google Scholar
  15. Marshall-Pescini S, Passalacqua C, Barnard S, Valsecchi P, Prato-Previde E (2009) Agility and search and rescue training differently affects pet dogs’ behaviour in socio-cognitive tasks. Behav Proc 81:416–422CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Marshall-Pescini S, Prato-Previde E, Valsecchi P (2011) Are dogs (Canis familiaris) misled more by their owners than by strangers in a food task? Anim Cog 14(1):137–142CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Marshall-Pescini S, Passalacqua C, Miletto Petrazzini ME, Valsecchi P, Prato-Previde E (2012) Do Dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) make counterproductive choices because they are sensitive to human ostensive cues? PLoS ONE 7(4):e35437. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0035437 PubMedCentralPubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. McKinley J, Sambrook T (2000) Use of human-given cues by domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) and horses (Equus caballus). Anim Cogn 3:13–22CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. McMahon S, Macpherson K, Roberts W (2010) Dogs choose a human informant: metacognition in canines. Behav Proc 85:293–298CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Merola I, Prato-Previde E, Marshall-Pescini S (2012) Social referencing in dog-owner dyads? Anim Cogn 15:175–185PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Miklósi Á, Soproni K (2006) A comparative analysis of animals’ understanding of the human pointing gesture. Anim Cogn 9:81–93PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Miklósi Á, Polgárdi R, Topál J, Csányi V (1998) Use of experimenter-given cues in dogs. Anim Cogn 1:113–121PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Miklósi Á, Kubinyi E, Topál J, Gácsi M, Virányi Z, Csányi V (2003) A simple reason for a big difference: wolves do not look back at humans, but dogs do. Curr Biol 13(9):763–766PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Miklósi Á, Pongrácz P, Lakatos G, Topál J, Csányi V (2005) A comparative study of the use of visual communicative signals in interactions between dogs (Canis familiaris) and human and cats (Felis catus) and humans. J Comp Psychol 119(2):179–186PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Palestrini C, Prato-Previde E, Spiezio C, Verga M (2005) Heart rate and behavioral responses of dogs in the Ainsworth’s Strange Situation: a pilot study. Appl Anim Behav Sci 94:75–88CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Pettersson H, Kaminski J, Herrmann E, Tomasello M (2011) Understanding of human communicative motives in domestic dogs. Appl Anim Behav Sci 133(3):235–245CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Pongrácz P, Miklósi Á, Timar-Geng K, Csányi V (2003) Preference for copying unambiguous demonstrations in dogs (Canis familiaris). J Comp Psychol 117(3):337–343PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Pongrácz P, Vida V, Bánhegyi P, Miklósi Á (2008) How does dominance rank status affect individual and social learning performance in the dog (Canis familiaris)? Anim Cogn 11(1):75–82. doi: 10.1007/s10071-007-0090-7 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Prato-Previde E, Marshall-Pescini S, Valsecchi P (2007) Is your choice my choice? The owners’ effect on pet dogs’ (Canis lupus familiaris) performance in a food choice task. Anim Cogn 11(1):167–174. doi: 10.1007/s10071-007-0102-7 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Reid PJ (2009) Adapting to the human world: dogs’ responsiveness to our social cues. Behav Proc 80(3):325–333. doi: 10.1016/j.beproc.2008.11.002 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Riedel J, Schumann K, Kaminski J, Call J, Tomasello M (2008) The early ontogeny of human-dog communication. Anim Beh 75:1003–1014CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Soproni K, Miklósi Á, Topál J, Csányi V (2002) Dogs’ (Canis familiaris) responsiveness to human pointing gestures. J Comp Psychol 116(1):27–34PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Szetei V, Miklósi Á, Topál J, Csányi V (2003) When dogs seem to lose their nose: an investigation on the use of visual and olfactory cues in communicative context between dog and owner. Appl Anim Behav Sci 83:141–152CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Topal J, Miklósi Á, Csányi V, Dóka A (1998) A new application of Ainsworth’s (1969) Strange Situation Test. J Comp Psychol 112(3):219–229PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Topál J, Miklósi Á, Csányi V (1997) Dog-human relationship affects problem solving behavior in the dog. Anthrozoos 10(4):214–227CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Topál J, Kubinyi E, Gácsi M, Miklósi Á (2006) Obeying social rules: a comparative study on dogs and humans. J Cult Evol Psychol 3(3–4):223–243Google Scholar
  37. Topál J, Gergely G, Erdohegyi A, Csibra G, Miklósi Á (2009) Differential sensitivity to human communication in dogs, wolves and human infants. Science 325:1269–1272PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Tuber D, Hennessy M, Sanders S, Miller J (1996) Behavioral and glucocorticoid responses of adult domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) to companionship and social separation. J Comp Psychol 110(1):103–108PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Udell M, Dorey N, Wynne C (2010) The performance of stray dogs (Canis familiaris) living in a shelter on human-guided object-choice tasks. Anim Behav 79:717–725CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Udell M, Dorey N, Wynne C (2011) Can your dog read your mind? Understanding the causes of canine perspective taking. Learn and Behav 39(4):289–302CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Vilà C, Savolainen P, Maldonado JE, Amorim IR, Rice JE, Honeycutt RL, Crandall KA, Lundeberg J, Wayne RK (1997) Multiple and ancient origins of the domestic dog. Science 276(5319):1687–1689PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Wayne RK, vonHoldt BM (2012) Evolutionary genomics of dog domestication. Mamm Genome 23:3–18PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Psychology DepartmentUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA

Personalised recommendations