Animal Cognition

, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 511–520 | Cite as

Deceptive-like behaviour in dogs (Canis familiaris)

  • Marianne T. E. Heberlein
  • Marta B. Manser
  • Dennis C. Turner
Original Paper

Abstract

Deception, the use of false signals to modify the behaviour of the receiver, occurs in low frequencies even in stable signalling systems. For example, it can be advantageous for subordinate individuals to deceive in competitive situations. We investigated in a three-way choice task whether dogs are able to mislead a human competitor, i.e. if they are capable of tactical deception. During training, dogs experienced the role of their owner, as always being cooperative, and two unfamiliar humans, one acting ‘cooperatively’ by giving food and the other being ‘competitive’ and keeping the food for themselves. During the test, the dog had the options to lead one of these partners to one of the three potential food locations: one contained a favoured food item, the other a non-preferred food item and the third remained empty. After having led one of the partners, the dog always had the possibility of leading its cooperative owner to one of the food locations. Therefore, a dog would have a direct benefit from misleading the competitive partner since it would then get another chance to receive the preferred food from the owner. On the first test day, the dogs led the cooperative partner to the preferred food box more often than expected by chance and more often than the competitive partner. On the second day, they even led the competitive partner less often to the preferred food than expected by chance and more often to the empty box than the cooperative partner. These results show that dogs distinguished between the cooperative and the competitive partner, and indicate the flexibility of dogs to adjust their behaviour and that they are able to use tactical deception.

Keywords

Canis familiaris Cognition Deception Dog Misleading Dog–human interaction 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We thank Dr. Sarah Marshall-Pescini, Prof. Dr. Kurt Kotrschal and Laura Stott for their comments on this manuscript, Judith Burkart for her discussion during preparation of the manuscript and two unknown referees for helpful comments on an earlier draft of this manuscript. Special thanks to Sandra Gross, Jennifer Morger, Ruth Hangartner and Linda Lüthi, who helped us a lot with conducting the experiments, Christina Mayer for inter-observer reliability coding, and many thanks to all dogs and their owners who voluntarily participated in this experiment. We thank Dr. Zsófia Virányi (Head of Clever Dog Lab, Co-Director of Wolf Science Center, Austria) for her contribution to the unpublished study: ‘showing—intentional communication—in dogs’, which is cited in this publication. Furthermore, we would like to thank Mars Switzerland Inc. in Zug for the dog biscuits and the presents for the dogs and their owners.

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in this study involving animals were approved by the Zurich Cantonal Veterinary Department, concessionary number 07/2009, responsible for the ethical treatment of animals where the study was conducted, and the dog owners gave their informed consent before participating.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from the dog owners, for subjects that participated in the study.

References

  1. Amici F, Call J, Aureli F (2009) Variation in withholding of information in three monkey species. Proc R Soc B 276:3311–3318. doi:10.1098/rspb.2009.0759 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  2. Anderson JR, Kuroshima H, Kuwahata H, Fujita K, Vick S (2001) Training squirrel monkeys (Saimiri sciureus) to deceive: acquisition and analysis of behaviour toward cooperative and competitive trainers. J Comp Psychol 115(3):282–293. doi:10.1037//0735-7036.115.3.282 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Bálint A, Faragó T, Dóka A, Miklósi Á, Pongrácz P (2013) “Beware, I am big and non-dangerous!”—playfully growling dogs are perceived larger than their actual size by their canine audience. Appl Anim Behav Sci 148:128–137. doi:10.1016/j.applanim.2013.07.013 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Baron-Cohen S (1999) Evolution of a theory of mind? In: Corballis M, Lea S (eds) The descent of mind: psychological perspectives on hominid evolution. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  5. Bonanni R, Cafazzo S (2014) The social organisation of a population of free-ranging dogs in a suburban area of Rome: a reassessment of the effects of domestication on dogs’ behaviour. In: Kaminski J, Marshall-Pescini S (eds) The Social Dog: behaviour and cognition. Academic Press, London, pp 65–104CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bradshaw JW, Blackwell EJ, Casey RA (2009) Dominance in domestic dogs—useful construct or bad habit? J Vet Behav 4:135–144. doi:10.1016/j.jveb.2008.08.004 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bräuer J, Call J, Tomasello M (2004) Visual perspective taking in dogs (Canis familiaris) in the presence of barriers. Appl Anim Behav Sci 88:299–317. doi:10.1016/j.applainim.2004.03.004 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Bugnyar Th, Kotrschal K (2002) Observational learning and the raiding of food caches in ravens, Corvus corax: is it “tactical” deception? Anim Behav 64:185–195. doi:10.1006/anbe.2002.3056 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Byrne RW, Corp N (2004) Neocortex size predicts deception rate in primates. Proc R Soc B 271:1693–1699. doi:10.1098/rspb.2004.2780 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  10. Byrne RW, Whiten A (1988) Machiavellian Intelligence: Social Expertise and the Evolution of Intellect in Monkeys, Apes, and Humans. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  11. Byrne RW, Whiten A (1992) Cognitive evolution in primates: evidence from tactical deception. Man (N.S.) 27(3):609–627CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Cafazzo DA, Valsecchi P, Bonanni R, Natoli E (2010) Dominance in relation to age, sex, and competitive contexts in a group of free-ranging domestic dogs. Behav Ecol 21:443–455. doi:10.1093/beheco/arq001 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Cheney DL, Seyfarth RM (1990) How monkeys see the world: Inside the mind of another species. University of Chicago Press, IllinoisGoogle Scholar
  14. 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 Behv Sci 81:229–244. doi:10.1016/S0168-1591(02)00284-8 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Coussi-Korbel S (1994) Learning to outwit a competitor in mangabeys. J Comp Psychol 108(2):164–171. doi:10.1037/0735-7036.108.2.164 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Flower TP, Gribble M, Ridley AR (2014) Deception by flexible alarm mimicry in an African bird. Science 344(513):513–516. doi:10.1126/science.1249723 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  17. Fujita K, Kuroshima H, Masuda T (2002) Do tufted capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella) spontaneously deceive opponents? A preliminary analysis of an experimental food-competition contest between monkeys. Anim Cogn 5:19–25. doi:10.1007/s100710100099 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Goodall J (1986) The chimpanzees of Gombe: patterns of behavior. Belknap Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  19. Gyger M, Marler PM (1988) Food calling in the domestic fowl, Gallus gallus: the role of external referents and deception. Anim Behav 36:358–365. doi:10.1016/S0003-3472(88)80006-X CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hare B, Call J, Tomasello M (2006) Chimpanzees deceive a human competitor by hiding. Cognition 101:495–514. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2005.01.011 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. Hare B, Tomasello M (2005) Human-like social skills in dogs? Trends Cogn Sci 9(9):440–444. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2005.07.003 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hauser MD (1992) Costs of deception: cheaters are punished in rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta). Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 89:12137–12139CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  23. Hauser MD (1997) Minding the behaviour of deception. In: Whithen A, Byrne RW (eds) Machiavellian intelligence II extensions and evaluations. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  24. Heberlein MTE, Turner DC, Range F, Virányi Z (2016) A comparison between wolves, Canis lupus, and dogs, Canis familiaris, in showing behaviour towards humans. Anim Behav 122:59–66. doi:10.1016/j.anbehav.2016.09.023 CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  25. Heyes CM (1998) Theory of mind in nonhuman primates. Behav Brain Sci 21(1):101–134PubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Hirata S, Matsuzawa T (2001) Tactics to obtain a hidden food item in chimpanzee pairs (Pan tronglodytes). Anim Cogn 4:285–295. doi:10.1007/s100710100096 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Johnstone RA, Grafen A (1993) Dishonesty and the handicap principle. Anim Behav 46:759–764CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Kaminski J, Call J, Fischer J (2004) Word learning in a domestic dog: evidence for “fast mapping”. Science 304:1682–1683. doi:10.1126/science.1097859 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  29. Kaminski J, Neumann M, Bräuer J, Call J, Tomasello M (2011) Dogs, Canis familiaris, communicate with humans to request but not to inform. Anim Behav 82:651–658. doi:10.1016/j.anbehav.2011.06.015 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Marler P, Dufty A, Pickert R (1986) Vocal communication in the domestic chicken: I. Does a sender communicate information about the quality of a food referent to a receiver? Anim Behav 34:188–193. doi:10.1016/0003-3472(86)90022-9 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Mitchell RW, Anderson JR (1997) Pointing, withholding information, and deception in capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella). J Comp Psychol 111(4):351–361. doi:10.1037/0735-7036.111.4.351 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  32. Mitchell RW, Thompson N (1993) Familiarity and the rarity of deception: two theories and their relevance to play between dogs (Canis familiaris) and humans (Homo sapiens). J Comp Psychol 107(3):291–300. doi:10.1037/0735-7036.107.3.291 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. Petter M, Musolino E, Roberts WA, Cole M (2009) Can dogs (Canis familiaris) detect human deception? Behav Process 82:109–118. doi:10.1016/j.beproc.2009.07.002 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Pongrácz P, Bánhegyi P, Miklósi Á (2012) When rank counts—dominant dogs learn better from a human demonstrator in a two—action test. Behaviour 149:111–132. doi:10.1163/156853912X629148 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Pongrácz P, Vida V, Bánhegyi P, Miklósi Á (2008) How does dominance rank status affect individual and social learing performance in the dog (Canis familiaris)? Anim Cogn 11:75–82. doi:10.1007/s10071-007-0090-7 CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. R Core Team (2014) R: a language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria. http://www.R-project.org/
  37. Santos LR, Nissen AG, Ferrugia JA (2006) Rhesus monkeys, Macaca mulatta, know what others can and cannot hear. Anim Behav 71:1175–1181. doi:10.1016/j.anbehav.2005.10.007 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Semple S, McComb K (1996) Behavioural deception. TREE 11(10):434–437PubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. Steele MA, Halkin SL, Smallwood PD, Mckenna ThM, Mitsopoulos K, Beam M (2008) Cache protection strategies of a scatter-hoarding rodent: do tree squirrels engage in behavioural deception? Anim Behav 75:705–714. doi:10.1016/j.anbehav.2007.07.026 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Tomasello M, Call J (1997) Primate cognition. Oxford University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  41. Virányi Z, Topál J, Gácsi M, Miklósi Á, Csányi V (2004) Dogs respond appropriately to cues of humans’ attentional focus. Behav Process 66:161–172. doi:10.1016/j.beproc.2004.01.012 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Woodruff G, Premack D (1979) Intentional communication in the chimpanzee: the development of deception. Cognition 7:333–362. doi:10.1016/0010-0277(79)90021-0 CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marianne T. E. Heberlein
    • 1
  • Marta B. Manser
    • 1
  • Dennis C. Turner
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Animal Behaviour, Department of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental StudiesUniversity of ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  2. 2.I.E.T./I.E.A.P.HorgenSwitzerland

Personalised recommendations