Selection

Monday, June 4th, 2007

After making sure the owners could not influence their pets’ behavior, researchers tested three groups of dogs. The first 14, representing a variety of breeds, did not watch Guinness. When taught how to use the rod, about 85 percent pushed it with their mouth, confirming that is how dogs naturally like to do things.

The second group of 21 dogs watched Guinness repeatedly push the rod with her paw while holding a ball in her mouth. In that group, most of the dogs — about 80 percent — used their mouth, imitating the action but not the exact method Guinness had used. That suggested the dogs — like the children — decided Guinness was only using her paw because she had no choice.

I agree that the dogs were watching, but why does their reaction suggest a decision that Guinness “had no choice”?

Here’s the link to WaPo article.


2 responses to “Selection”

  1. rsj says:

    Interesting question.

  2. rsj says:

    A friend of mine is a veterinarian and an animal behaviorist and we talked about this experiment at work today.

    This is an interesting question because it suggests that there is a remedial level of cognitive reasoning on the witnessing dogs part. It seems that the dogs have an understanding that another dog would natually move the bar with his mouth if he did not already have something in it. They somehow understand that natural oral instinct.

    And, when the dog moves the bar with his foot without something in his mouth, the other dogs understand that that is the ticket to getting the treat/ food.

    It’s pretty cool.

    Dogs definately learn from each other. They communicate on such a subtle level–sometimes by just a mere glance of an eye–it’s mind blowing.