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Effect of shared information and owner behavior on showing in dogs (Canis familiaris)

MPS-Authors
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Henschel,  Melanie
Linguistic and Cultural Evolution, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society;

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Winters,  James
The Mint, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society;

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Müller,  Thomas F.
The Mint, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society;

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Bräuer,  Juliane
Linguistic and Cultural Evolution, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Henschel, M., Winters, J., Müller, T. F., & Bräuer, J. (2020). Effect of shared information and owner behavior on showing in dogs (Canis familiaris). Animal Cognition, 23: s10071-020-01409-9, pp. 1019-1034. doi:10.1007/s10071-020-01409-9.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0006-A7C9-B
Abstract
Dogs’ production of referential communicative signals, i.e., showing, has gained increasing scientific interest over the last years. In this paper, we investigate whether shared information about the present and the past affects success and form of dog–human interactions. Second, in the context of showing, owners have always been treated as passive receivers of the dog’s signals. Therefore, we examined whether the owner’s behavior can influence the success and form of their dog’s showing behavior. To address these questions, we employed a hidden-object task with knowledgeable dogs and naïve owners. Shared information about the present was varied via the spatial set-up, i.e., position of hiding places, within dog–owner pairs, with two conditions requiring either high or low precision in indicating the target location. Order of conditions varied between pairs, representing differences in shared knowledge about the past (communication history). Results do not support an effect of communication history on either success or showing effort. In contrast, the spatial set-up was found to affect success and choice of showing strategies. However, dogs did not adjust their showing effort according to different spatial set-ups. Our results suggest that the latter could be due to the owner’s influence. Owner behavior generally increased the effort of their dog’s showing behavior which was stronger in the set-up requiring low showing precision. Moreover, our results suggest that owners could influence their dog’s showing accuracy (and thereby success) which, however, tended to be obstructive.