Looking Forward to Play: The Persuasive Strategies of a Dog

  • Maria Pia Pozzato


The author analyses, with semiotic tools, the behaviour of a dog that she observed in Trieste, along the famous promenade called “Barcola”. The animal had been playing with its masters on the seashore and then brought back onto the avenue ready to go home. The dog repeatedly tried, with different strategies, to convince its masters to return to shore and continue their play. The tripling of the trials that is so typical of fairy tales was observed to have been enacted: exactly three times, the dog reproduced the sequence of running towards the parapet, glancing over the sea with guile, running towards its masters, jumping and imploring in front of them, renouncing and walking in a backward position with a lolling head. It is argued that this behaviour demonstrates a highly structured semantic, narrative and communicative competence. This study aims at connecting Semiotics and the ecological approach to cognition that takes into account not only strictly cognitive activities but a wider spectrum of strategies through which an animal develops the adaptive behaviour requested by specific environmental conditions.


Semiotics Zoo-semiotics Cognitive Sciences Ethology 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di Filosofia e ComunicazioneUniversità di BolognaBolognaItaly

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