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Permanent URL to this publication: http://dx.doi.org/10.5167/uzh-21181

Heberlein, M; Turner, D C (2009). Dogs, Canis familiaris, find hidden food by observing and interacting with a conspecific. Animal Behaviour, 78(2):385-391.

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Social learning is an important process in the development of behaviour in many species. It is involved in information transfer concerning food that leads, in some species, to food preferences. In our experiment an adult dog (the observer) was allowed to observe another adult dog (the demonstrator) while the latter was disappearing behind one of four projecting blinds. In one trial the demonstrator dog found food behind the projecting blind, but not in the other. After the demonstrator had inspected the potential food location, it returned to the observer dog and they were allowed to interact and to have snout contact. Afterwards, the observer dog was allowed to inspect the potential food locations, while no olfactory cues from the food were given. The observer dogs were able to adjust their search behaviour depending on the knowledge gained by observing and interacting with a conspecific. Food availability to the demonstrator dog during the demonstration phase increased the willingness of observer dogs to have snout contact with their demonstrators and increased their motivation to search for food. In contrast to snout contact, however, food availability to the demonstrator dog had no influence on the decision to go to a particular food location. Furthermore, our results suggest that dogs use snout contact as a source of information to decide whether to go to a potential food location or not.


9 citations in Web of Science®
11 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Date:August 2009
Deposited On:13 Oct 2009 15:54
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 13:22
Publisher DOI:10.1016/j.anbehav.2009.05.012

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