The effect of development and individual differences in pointing comprehension of dogs

Gácsi, Márta and Kara, E. and Belényi, B. and Topál, József and Miklósi, Ádám (2009) The effect of development and individual differences in pointing comprehension of dogs. ANIMAL COGNITION, 12 (3). pp. 471-479. ISSN 1435-9448

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In spite of the rather diVerent procedures actually used in comparative studies to test the ability of diVerent species to rely on the human pointing gesture, there is no debate on the high performance of dogs in such tasks. Very little is known, however, on the course through which they acquire this ability or the probable factors inXuencing the process. Important developmental questions have remained unsolved and also some methodological concerns should be addressed before we can convincingly argue for one interpretation or another. In this study we tested 180 dogs of diVerent age (from 2 months to adults) to investigate their performance in the human distal momentary pointing gesture. The results, analyzed at both the group and the individual levels, showed no diVerence in the performance according to age, indicating that in dogs the comprehension of the human pointing may require only very limited and rapid early learning to fully develop. Interestingly, neither the keeping conditions nor the time spent in active interaction with the owner, and not even some special (agility) training for using human visual cues, had signiWcant eVect on the success and explained individual diVerences. The performance of the dogs was rather stable over time: during the 20 trials within a session and even when subsamples of diVerent age were repeatedly tested. Considering that in spite of the general success at the group level, more than half of the dogs were not successful at the individual level, we revealed alternative “decision-making rules” other than following the pointing gesture of the experimenter.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Abstract · InterspeciWc communication · Dog · Human pointing · Two-way object choice test · Developmental eVects · Individual diVerences
Subjects: Q Science / természettudomány > QH Natural history / természetrajz > QH301 Biology / biológia
Depositing User: MTMT SWORD
Date Deposited: 04 Jun 2014 11:21
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2014 11:21

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