Training Improves Inhibitory Control in Water Rescue Dogs

Anim Cogn. 2019 Jan;22(1):127-131. doi: 10.1007/s10071-018-1224-9. Epub 2018 Nov 12.


Inhibitory control is a collection of several processes that are aimed to refrain from any impulsive response in the subject during inappropriate situations. Evidence suggests that in dogs, the inhibitory control is affected by domestication process, but also experiences during ontogeny could be an important driver in acquiring inhibitory control. The aim of the study was to compare the performance of highly trained dogs (i.e., water rescue dogs) and pet dogs in the A-not-B task. In this procedure, the animals have to inhibit their urge of going to a previous reinforced place. The results showed that the trained dogs committed fewer errors in the task than the pet dogs suggesting a better inhibitory control. This result could indicate that inhibitory control is a flexible ability affected by ontogenetic processes such as the training experience.

Keywords: A-not-B task; Inhibitory control; Pet dogs.; Water rescue dogs.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal*
  • Dogs*
  • Female
  • Inhibition, Psychological*
  • Learning
  • Male