Learning & Behavior

, Volume 46, Issue 4, pp 442–448 | Cite as

Domesticated dogs (Canis familiaris) tend to follow repeated deceptive human cues even when food is visible

  • Candice Dwyer
  • Mark R. ColeEmail author


There is abundant evidence that domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) readily follow pointing and other cues given by humans. But there has been much less research into the question of whether dogs can learn to discriminate between different humans giving repeated honest or dishonest cues as to food location, by ignoring the information imparted by the deceiver. Prior research has demonstrated that even after repeated exposures to deceptive cues with respect to food location, dogs failed to learn to ignore those cues completely. Kundey, De Los Reyes, Arbuthnot, Coshun, Molina, and Royer (2010) found the same outcome in a similar experiment. The purpose of the current experiment was to determine if dogs could learn to discriminate between an honest and a deceptive human by ignoring the deceiver’s cues even when it was obvious that the container being pointed at was not baited by using two transparent containers. Eight dogs were tested. On 20 cooperator trials, the experimenter stood behind the baited container and cued the dog, located midway between the containers and 3 m away, to approach it. On 20 deceiver trials, a different experimenter stood behind the empty container and cued the dog to approach that container. Results replicated prior research in that, even though the containers were transparent, the dogs failed to learn to distrust the deceiver completely and went to the empty and indicated container on more than half of the deceiver trials.


Domestic dogs Human cuing Deception Transparent food containers 


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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyHuron University College at the University of Western OntarioLondonCanada

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