Clever Dog Laboratory

Vienna, Austria

Clever Dog Laboratory

Vienna, Austria
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Range F.,University of Vienna | Range F.,Clever Dog Laboratory | Range F.,Wolf Science Center | Hentrup M.,Clever Dog Laboratory | And 4 more authors.
Animal Cognition | Year: 2011

Dogs, although very skilled in social-communicative tasks, have shown limited abilities in the domain of physical cognition. Consequently, several researchers hypothesized that domestication enhanced dogs' cognitive abilities in the social realm, but relaxed selection on the physical one. For instance, dogs failed to demonstrate means-end understanding, an important form of relying on physical causal connection, when tested in a string-pulling task. Here, we tested dogs in an "on/off" task using a novel approach. Thirty-two dogs were confronted with four different conditions in which they could choose between two boards one with a reward "on" and another one with a reward "off" (reward was placed next to the board). The dogs chose the correct board when (1) both rewards were placed at the same distance from the dog, when (2) the reward placed "on" the board was closer to the dog, and (3) even when the reward placed "off" the board was much closer to the dog and was food. Interestingly, in the latter case, dogs did not perform above chance, if instead of a direct reward, the dogs had to retrieve an object placed on the board to get a food reward. In contrast to previous string-pulling studies, our results show that dogs are able to solve a means-end task even if proximity of the unsupported reward is a confounding factor. © 2011 Springer-Verlag.

Farago T.,Eötvös Loránd University | Pongracz P.,Eötvös Loránd University | Miklosi A.,Eötvös Loránd University | Huber L.,University of Vienna | And 4 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2010

Several studies suggest that dogs, as well as primates, utilize a mental representation of the signaler after hearing its vocalization and can match this representation with other features provided by the visual modality. Recently it was found that a dogs' growl is context specific and contains information about the caller's body size. Whether dogs can use the encoded information is as yet unclear. In this experiment, we tested whether dogs can assess the size of another dog if they hear an agonistic growl paired with simultaneous video projection of two dog pictures. One of them matched the size of the growling dog, while the other one was either 30% larger or smaller. In control groups, noise, cat pictures or projections of geometric shapes (triangles) were used. The results showed that dogs look sooner and longer at the dog picture matching the size of the caller. No such preference was found with any of the control stimuli, suggesting that dogs have a mental representation of the caller when hearing its vocalization. © 2010 Faragóet al.

Turcsan B.,A.P.S. University | Range F.,University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna | Range F.,Clever Dog Laboratory | Viranyi Z.,University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna | And 3 more authors.
Applied Animal Behaviour Science | Year: 2012

Partner choice is strongly affected by similarity in physical and psychological characteristics. Although there is a popular belief that dogs share similar personality characteristics with their owners, no studies have yet addressed the topic. Here, we tested for associations between the dog and owner personality in two countries (Austria and Hungary) and found significant positive correlations between owners and their dogs in all the five investigated personality dimensions (neuroticism, extraversion, conscientiousness, agreeableness, and openness). This similarity could not be attributed solely to the owners' self-projection, since the similarity in the first four dimensions was also significant when an independent peer person assessed the dog instead of the owner. The similarity was not affected by the length of ownership, however, we found cultural differences in the correlation pattern; more and stronger correlations were found in the Hungarian sample. Moreover, in multi-dog households the dogs' similarity patterns complement each other, suggesting possible differences in the dogs' role. Our results provide the first evidence that dogs do resemble their owners suggesting potential applied utility as well as indicating that dog-owner relationship could be a useful model of human social relationships. © 2012 Elsevier B.V..

Horn L.,University of Vienna | Horn L.,Clever Dog Laboratory | Viranyi Z.,University of Vienna | Viranyi Z.,Clever Dog Laboratory | And 5 more authors.
Animal Cognition | Year: 2012

Domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) have been shown to actively initiate triadic communicative interactions by looking at a human partner or by alternating their gaze between the human and an object when being faced with an out-of-reach reward or an unsolvable problem. It has hardly been investigated, however, whether dogs flexibly adjust their human-directed behavior to the actions of their partners, which indicate their willingness and abilities to help them when they are faced with a problem. Here, in two experiments, we confronted dogs-after initially allowing them to learn how to manipulate an apparatus-with two problem situations: with an empty apparatus and a blocked apparatus. In Experiment 1, we showed that dogs looked back at their owners more when the owners had previously encouraged them, independently from the problem they faced. In Experiment 2, we provided dogs with two experimenters and allowed them to learn through an initial phase that each of the experimenters could solve one of the two problems: the Filler re-baited the empty apparatus and the Helper unblocked the blocked apparatus. We found that dogs could learn to recognize the ability of the Filler and spent time close to her when the apparatus was empty. Independently from the problem, however, they always approached the Helper first. The results of the present study indicate that dogs may have a limited understanding of physical problems and how they can be solved by a human partner. Nevertheless, dogs are able to adjust their behavior to situation-specific characteristics of their human partner's behavior. © 2011 Springer-Verlag.

Kis A.,Eötvös Loránd University | Topal J.,Hungarian Academy of Sciences | Gacsi M.,Eötvös Loránd University | Range F.,Clever Dog Laboratory | And 6 more authors.
Animal Cognition | Year: 2012

Recent dog-infant comparisons have indicated that the experimenter's communicative signals in object hide-and-search tasks increase the probability of perseverative (A-not-B) errors in both species (Topál et al. 2009). These behaviourally similar results, however, might reflect different mechanisms in dogs and in children. Similar errors may occur if the motor response of retrieving the object during the A trials cannot be inhibited in the B trials or if the experimenter's movements and signals toward the A hiding place in the B trials ('sham-baiting') distract the dogs' attention. In order to test these hypotheses, we tested dogs similarly to Topál et al. (2009) but eliminated the motor search in the A trials and 'sham-baiting' in the B trials. We found that neither an inability to inhibit previously rewarded motor response nor insufficiencies in their working memory and/or attention skills can explain dogs' erroneous choices. Further, we replicated the finding that dogs have a strong tendency to commit the A-not-B error after ostensive-communicative hiding and demonstrated the crucial effect of socio-communicative cues as the A-not-B error diminishes when location B is ostensively enhanced. These findings further support the hypothesis that the dogs' A-not-B error may reflect a special sensitivity to human communicative cues. Such object-hiding and search tasks provide a typical case for how susceptibility to human social signals could (mis)lead domestic dogs. © 2012 Springer-Verlag.

Muller C.A.,University of Vienna | Muller C.A.,University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna | Muller C.A.,Clever Dog Laboratory | Riemer S.,University of Vienna | And 10 more authors.
Animal Cognition | Year: 2012

Humans in a negative emotional state are more likely to judge ambiguous stimuli as negative. In recent years, similar judgement biases have been found in some non-human animals that were exposed to long-term or short-term treatments aimed at influencing their affective states. Here we tested pet dogs in the presence and absence of their owners in a judgement bias test with an established go/no-go procedure. Even though owner absence is thought to induce a state of anxiety in dogs that have formed an attachment bond with their primary caretakers, we found no difference between the dogs' responses to ambiguous stimuli in the presence or absence of their owners. This result may be explained by the absence of anxiety in dogs that are accustomed to brief periods of separation from their owners, or by a sensitivity limit of the customary judgement bias tests in non-human animals when only a moderate, short-term state of anxiety is induced. In addition, we found significant differences between individuals and populations in the responses to ambiguous stimuli, which give impetus for further research. © 2012 Springer-Verlag.

Muller C.A.,University of Vienna | Muller C.A.,Clever Dog Laboratory | Mayer C.,University of Vienna | Dorrenberg S.,University of Vienna | And 4 more authors.
Biology Letters | Year: 2011

Differences betweensexes in cognitiveprocesses are widespread in humans and permeate many, if not most, cognitive domains. In animal cognition research, however, possible sex differences are still often neglected. Here, we provide striking evidence for a sex-specific response in an object permanence task in domestic dogs (Canis familiaris). Female dogs responded with significantly increased looking times to a violation of expectancy-a ball 'magically' changing size while temporarily occluded. By contrast, male dogs, irrespective of their neuter status, did not respond to the size constancy violation. These results indicate that sex differences in basic cognitive processes may extend to mammals in general, and call for increased consideration of possible sex effects when analysing and interpreting data in animal cognition. © 2011 The Royal Society.

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