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Motoric self-regulation by sled dogs and pet dogs and the acute effect of carbohydrate source in sled dogs

Abstract

Inhibitory control is a term used to envelop a collection of processes that allow an organism to refrain from engaging in an inappropriate prepotent or responsive behavior. Studies have examined the propensity of inhibitory control by nonhuman animals, from the cognitively complex processes involved in self-control to potentially less cognitively taxing processes such as motoric self-regulation. Focusing on canines, research has suggested that the domestication process as well as experiences during ontogeny contribute to inhibitory control. Diet may also play an important role in an individual’s ability to self-regulate. This study examined this possibility by investigating motoric self-regulation in sled dogs, using three well-established tasks (i.e., A-not-B Bucket, Cylinder, and A-not-B Barrier tasks), performed after consumption of one of three dietary treatments with different glycemic index values. We also compared the performance of sled dogs during these tasks with results previously obtained from pet dogs. Overall, the results show many similarities in the performance of sled dogs and pet dogs on the motoric self-regulation tasks, with the notable exception that sled dogs may have a stronger spatial perseveration during the A-not-B Bucket task. Previous research findings reporting a lack of correlation among these tasks are also supported. Finally, during the early postprandial phase (period after consumption), dietary treatments with different glycemic index values did not influence self-regulatory performance for sled dogs.

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Acknowledgments

We would very much like to thank the owner’s of the sled dogs for lending us the facilities and access to their sled dogs to perform our experiments. We would like to thank Laura Stiles for assistance with data scoring. AdV, DMK, JA designed the study; DMK, AlV and JAM conducted the behavioral experiments; AdV, JA, AR designed the nutritional components, AlV and DMK analyzed the data, and all authors contributed to writing and editing the manuscript.

Funding

This study was funded by a Natural Science & Engineering Research Council Collaborative Research Development grant (#CRDPJ488705–15) in partnership with Petcurean Pet Nutrition to AdV, DMK and JA. JA is an employee with Petcurean Pet Nutrition.

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Correspondence to Debbie M. Kelly.

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Authors AdV, DMK and JA received funding by a Natural Science & Engineering Research Council Collaborative Research Development grant (#CRDPJ488705–15) in partnership with Petcurean Pet Nutrition to JA, who is an employee with Petcurean Pet Nutrition. Authors AdV, DMK and JA declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed.

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Kelly, D.M., Adolphe, J.L., Vernouillet, A. et al. Motoric self-regulation by sled dogs and pet dogs and the acute effect of carbohydrate source in sled dogs. Anim Cogn 22, 931–946 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10071-019-01285-y

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Keywords

  • Carbohydrate
  • Glycemic index
  • Inhibitory control
  • Motoric self-regulation
  • Sled dogs