Medical Research Institute IDIM

Medical Research Institute IDIM

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Carballo F.,Medical Research Institute IDIM | Freidin E.,Medical Research Institute IDIM | Putrino N.,Medical Research Institute IDIM | Shimabukuro C.,Medical Research Institute IDIM | And 2 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2015

Discrimination of and memory for others' generous and selfish behaviors could be adaptive abilities in social animals. Dogs have seemingly expressed such skills in both direct and indirect interactions with humans. However, recent studies suggest that their capacity may rely on cues other than people's individual characteristics, such as the place where the person stands. Thus, the conditions under which dogs recognize individual humans when solving cooperative tasks still remains unclear. With the aim of contributing to this problem, we made dogs interact with two human experimenters, one generous (pointed towards the food, gave ostensive cues, and allowed the dog to eat it) and the other selfish (pointed towards the food, but ate it before the dog could have it). Then subjects could choose between them (studies 1-3). In study 1, dogs took several training trials to learn the discrimination between the generous and the selfish experimenters when both were of the same gender. In study 2, the discrimination was learned faster when the experimenters were of different gender as evidenced both by dogs ' latencies to approach the bowl in training trials as well as by their choices in preference tests. Nevertheless, dogs did not get confused by gender when the experimenters were changed in between the training and the choice phase in study 3. We conclude that dogs spontaneously used human gender as a cue to discriminate between more and less cooperative experimenters. They also relied on some other personal feature which let them avoid being confused by gender when demonstrators were changed. We discuss these results in terms of dogs' ability to recognize individuals and the potential advantage of this skill for their lives in human environments. Copyright: © 2015 Carballo et al.

Barrera G.,CONICET | Barrera G.,Medical Research Institute IDIM | Fagnani J.,CONICET | Fagnani J.,Medical Research Institute IDIM | And 3 more authors.
Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research | Year: 2015

Many lines of evidence show differences between the communicative skills and social responses of dogs kept in shelters (SHDs) for long periods of time compared with pet dogs (PDs). The purpose of this work is to investigate whether there are also differences between these groups in a nonsocial problem-solving task consisting of dislodging nine plastic bones placed in a bowl to obtain the food hidden underneath it. The procedure comprised 3 phases: reinforcement, extinction, and reacquisition. In study 1, a second goal was to study whether, in the course of resolving the said task, the dogs exhibit different social responses in the presence of a stranger who remained seated near the apparatus in a passive attitude throughout the test. Results demonstrated that PDs spent longer time interacting with the apparatus throughout the 3 phases, which probably indicates greater persistence of reward-seeking behavior, compared with SHDs. This difference may relate to the fact that PDs have been more frequently exposed to partial reinforcement processes during their everyday life and have thus increased their resistance to extinction. On the other hand, during the extinction phase when no food was left, SHDs remained near for a longer time and gazed more at the person than PDs. This might indicate that the person was a stronger stimulus for SHDs as they are more deprived of social contact with people in their everyday life, which proves how the experiences during ontogeny shape the relationship between dogs and humans. The second study showed that PDs spent more time interacting with the apparatus compared with the SHDs, even in the absence of the person. These results indicate that PDs are more persistent in the reward searching response, whereas SHDs have a higher social motivation. © 2015 Elsevier Inc.

Barrera G.,Medical Research Institute IDIM | Mustaca A.,Medical Research Institute IDIM | Bentosela M.,Medical Research Institute IDIM
Animal Cognition | Year: 2011

It is widely known that gaze plays an essential role in communicative interactions. Domestic dogs tend to look at the human face in situations of conflict and uncertainty. This study compares the gaze of shelter and pet dogs during acquisition and extinction phases in a situation involving a reward in sight but out of reach. Even though no significant differences between the groups were recorded during acquisition, gaze duration decreased in both groups during extinction, with shelter dogs showing a significant shorter duration. This could be related to their different living conditions and to the fact that through their ordinary everyday interactions, pet dogs have more opportunities to learn to persist in their communicative responses when they do not get what they want. These results highlight the relevance of learning experiences during ontogeny, which would therefore modulate communicative responses. © 2011 Springer-Verlag.

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