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Dogs’ and wolves’ differ in the time spent with an owner/caregiver or food in a concurrent choice procedure

posted on 2021-02-23, 15:17 authored by Erica N Feuerbacher, Lindsay Taylor Isernia, Clive D. L. Wynne
Dogs show differential responding to their owners compared to strangers, including exploring more in the presence of the owner, gazing more at the owner, gazing more at a door through which the owner exited, following the owner more, and greeting the owner more effusively upon return. Wolves also show differential responding to their caregivers, similar to dogs’ behavior towards their owner. Nevertheless, overall levels of social interaction vary between dogs and wolves, with dogs playing more with both familiar and unfamiliar humans, spending more time in proximity to humans, and showing shorter latencies to approach humans than wolves. In the current study, we investigated whether dogs and hand-reared wolves differed in their preference for their owner/caregiver or food when they have been equally deprived of each (at least 4 hours). Each canid experienced four trials; we measured first choice and time spent with each alternative. For two subsets of dogs, we conducted a follow-up study investigating whether we could modify their preference by having the owner call to the dog (for dogs that exclusively chose their food first in the first study) or by providing higher value food in the food bowl (for dogs that exclusively chose their owner first in the first study). Dogs tended to allocate their first choice to the owner whereas wolves allocated more of their first choice to food. Dogs and wolves did not differ in the time allocated to food during the trial, but dogs did allocate more time to the owner than wolves did to the caregiver.



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