The effect of different life experiences on dogs human-directed gazing [thesis]

Juliana Wallner Werneck Mendes
Mendes, J. W. W. The effect of different life experiences on dogs' human-directed gazing (Dissertação de Mestrado). Instituto de Psicologia, Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo. Dogs have been a part of human society for a thousand of years, and we have a particular relationship and communicative interaction, which we discuss in chapter 1. Gazing behaviors are used by dogs to draw a person's attention, indicate the location of a desired object, and initiate communication. In the second chapter
more » ... the second chapter of this dissertation, we reviewed the use of the unsolvable task, a common paradigm in studying human-dog communication, discussing how their different methodologies and proxies can affect results and hinder comparisons. We additionally proposed strategies to walk towards a more homogenous use of this important paradigm. In chapter 3 we presented an experiment using the unsolvable task to evaluate the effect of different experiences with humans in dogs' gazing behaviors. We compared pet dogs living inside the house, pet dogs living outside the house, and shelter dogs. We found no difference in latency to first gaze, but pet dogs did show a higher proportion of individuals engaging in gaze alternation, a higher number of gaze alternations and a longer duration of gazing than shelter dogs. Additionally, dogs living inside the house gazed more at the experimenter than dogs living outside the house. Overall, our results indicate a strong influence of experience in the development and use of these communicative behaviors in dogs. In chapter 4 we presented an exploratory analyzes of the behavior of shelter dogs in the first solvable trial of the unsolvable task. Fifteen dogs did not obtain food (fail group) and 16 did (success group). Dogs in the fail group had a higher latency to start moving. We presented a time budget for dogs in the fail group. They spent, in average, half of the testing time out of the experimental area and allocated considerable time to walking and sniffing. We discussed these results regarding stress, fear, and the need to explore, and proposed that these are important factors to take into consideration when assessing cognitive abilities in shelter dogs. We additionally discussed strategies to better fit shelter and other non-pet dog populations in current research. Overall, this dissertation brought a new overview, data and discussion contributing to the topic of dog-human communication. This helps us to further understand the process of interspecific communication and of the role of experience in the development of social skills. Finally, but not less important, the understanding of our relationship with dogs can contribute to make the coexistence more harmonious. Abstract Communication between dogs and humans is a topic of growing interest, and the "unsolvable task" is a common method used to measure communicative production. In this task, dogs learn how to solve a problem to obtain a reward. After a fixed number of trials, the reward becomes impossible to access. Although useful to observe dogs' communicative behaviors in a fairly naturalistic situation, the methodology varies among studies regarding apparatus, number of trials, and other factors. The proxies used also vary, and there are discrepancies and a debate regarding what the task actually measures. Therefore, in this study, we reviewed the usage of the unsolvable task in canids of the genus Canis, searching Web of Science for the terms "dog*", "Canis", "dingo*", "wolf" or "wolves" in the title and "unsolvable task" or "impossible task" in the topic. We included twenty-four studies in this review and discussed how their different methodologies and proxies can affect results and hinder comparisons. Lastly, we propose strategies to walk towards a more homogenous use of this important paradigm. Abstract Dogs are particularly skillful in communicating with humans, and growing evidence points towards the importance of both our interchained evolutionary history and our intense daily partnership. Gaze alternation is a behavior used by dogs to draw a person's attention and indicate the location of a desired object. This behavior is used by dogs from a very young age and is affected by factors such as aging, experience, and training throughout their development. In this study we evaluated how different degrees of daily human interaction affect dogs' gazing behavior in the unsolvable task. In the presence of their caregiver and an experimenter, the dog learned to turn over a recipient to obtain a piece of food. After three trials, the recipient was locked, and the food became impossible to access. Three groups with different degrees of daily interactions with humans were compared: pet dogs that live inside the house, pet dogs that live outside of the house, and shelter dogs. We found no difference in latency to first gaze, but pet dogs did show a higher proportion of individuals engaging in gaze alternation, a higher number of gaze alternations and a longer duration of gazing than shelter dogs. Additionally, dogs living inside the house gazed more at the experimenter than dogs living outside the house. Overall, our results indicate a strong influence of experience in the development and use of these communicative behaviors in dogs, with groups that have more experiences with people in their daily lives being more willing to communicate with humans as a strategy to obtain a desired goal. Abstract Dogs' cognitive and communicative skills seem to be affected, among many factors, by different experiences with humans. A rising number of studies with shelter dogs propose to evaluate their problem-solving strategies and interactions with humans. Increased fear, stress, and need to explore may influence their behavior in testing situations. In this study we analyzed the behavior of shelter dogs in a task in which they had one minute to turn over a recipient and obtain food. Fifteen dogs did not obtain food (fail group) and 16 did (success group). Dogs in the fail group had a higher latency to start moving. We present a time budget for dogs in the fail group. They spent, in average, half of the testing time out of the experimental area and allocated considerable time to walking and sniffing. We discuss these results regarding stress, fear, and the need to explore, and propose that these are important factors to take into consideration when assessing cognitive abilities in shelter dogs. We additionally discuss strategies to better fit shelter and other non-pet dog populations in current research.
doi:10.11606/d.47.2020.tde-05112020-195618 fatcat:u52vhapze5exxleiip43pdpy3q