The role of life history and familiarity in performance of working and non-working dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) in a point-following task
Domestic dogs are very successful at following human communicative gestures in paradigms such as the object-choice task. Pet dogs also prefer responding to cues given by a familiar cue-giver and this had not been found in working dogs. Therefore, we tested three groups of dogs in the object-choice task (n = 54): the groups were “Actively working” dogs from working dog breeds, pet dogs from “Non-working breeds” and pet dogs from “Working breeds”. We found that “Actively working” and “Working breeds” dog groups outperformed “Non-working breeds” in following a point in the object-choice task. We also found that both “Actively working” and “Working breeds” preferred a familiar cue-giver over an unfamiliar one, in contrast to previous findings. Therefore, we conclude that dogs’ abilities to perform well in the object-choice task is influenced by the selective history of the breed, and this is then increased by life experience and training.
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InstitutionUniversity of Sussex
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