3 years ago

Understanding of human referential gestures is not correlated to human-directed social behaviour in Labrador retrievers and German shepherd dogs

Dogs are known to excel in interspecific communication with humans and both communicate with humans and follow human communicative cues. Two tests commonly used to test these skills are, firstly, the problem-solving paradigm, and, secondly, following human referential signals, for example pointing. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether dogs that seek more human contact in an unsolvable problem-solving paradigm also better understand human communicative cues in a pointing test. We also assessed between- and within-breed variation in both tests. 167 dogs were tested and were of the breeds German shepherd dog and Labrador retriever. The Labradors were separated into the two selection lines: common type (bred for show and pet) and field type (bred for hunting). A principal component analysis of behaviours during the problem solving revealed four components: Passivity, Experimenter Contact, Owner Contact and Eye Contact. We analysed the effect of these components on success rate in the pointing test and we found no effect for three of them, while a negative correlation was found for Owner Contact (F(1,147) = 6.892; P = 0.010). This was only present in common-typed Labradors. We conclude that the ability to follow a pointing cue does not predict the propensity for human-directed social behaviour in a problem-solving situation and suggest that the two tests measure different aspects of human-directed social behaviour in dogs.

Publisher URL: www.sciencedirect.com/science

DOI: S0168159117303581

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