Invisible displacement understanding in domestic dogs (Canis familiaris): the role of visual cues in search behavior

Anim Cogn. 2007 Apr;10(2):211-24. doi: 10.1007/s10071-006-0060-5. Epub 2006 Dec 13.

Abstract

Recently, (Collier-Baker E, Davis JM, Suddendorf T (2004) J Comp Psychol 118:421-433) suggested that domestic dogs do not understand invisible displacements. In the present study, we further investigated the hypothesis that the search behavior of domestic dogs in invisible displacements is guided by various visual cues inherent to the task rather than by mental representation of an object's past trajectory. Specifically, we examined the role of the experimenter as a function of the final position of the displacement device in the search behavior of domestic dogs. Visible and invisible displacement problems were administered to dogs (N = 11) under two conditions. In the Visible-experimenter condition, the experimenter was visible whereas in the Concealed-experimenter condition, the experimenter was visibly occluded behind a large rigid barrier. Our data supported the conclusion that dogs do not understand invisible displacements but primarily search as a function of the final position of the displacement device and, to a lesser extent, the position of the experimenter.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dogs / physiology*
  • Female
  • Male
  • Space Perception*
  • Spatial Behavior*
  • Visual Perception*