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Breed group differences in the unsolvable problem task: Herding dogs prefer their owner, while solitary hunting dogs seek stranger proximity

By Enya Van Poucke, Amanda Höglin, Per Jensen, Lina S. V. Roth

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Abstract

The communicating skills of dogs are well documented and especially their contact-seeking behaviours towards humans. The aim of this study was to use the unsolvable problem paradigm to investigate differences between breed groups in their contact-seeking behaviours towards their owner and a stranger. Twenty-four dogs of ancient breeds, 58 herding dogs, and 17 solitary hunting dogs were included in the study, and their behaviour when presented with an unsolvable problem task (UPT) was recorded for 3 min. All breed groups interacted with the test apparatus the same amount of time, but the herding dogs showed a longer gaze duration towards their owner compared to the other groups and they also preferred to interact with their owner instead of a stranger. Interestingly, the solitary hunting dogs were more in stranger proximity than the other groups, and they also showed a preference to make contact with a stranger instead of their owner. Hence, we found differences in contact-seeking behaviours, reflecting the dog–human relationship, between breed groups that might not only be related to their genetic similarity to wolves, but also due to the specific breeding history of the dogs.

Date 2021
Publication Title Animal Cognition
Volume 25
Issue 3
Pages 597-603
ISBN/ISSN 1435-94481435-9456
Publisher Springer
DOI 10.1007/s10071-021-01582-5
Language English
Author Address Roth, Lina S. V., Linkoping University, IFM Biology, 581 83, Linkoping, Sweden
Additional Language English
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Tags
  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animals
  3. Animal welfare
  4. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  5. Breeding
  6. Dogs
  7. Human-animal bond
  8. Human-animal relationships
  9. Hunting
  10. open access
  11. Wolves
  12. Working animals
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  1. open access