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Thread: Dogs, but not wolves, using humans as tools

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    Default Dogs, but not wolves, using humans as tools


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    Very interesting.

    You should have seen the way my dog was looking at me (eye contact) and my lunch (alternately) today. It was intense.

    So I told her to go in the crate... but I saved a bit of toasted chicken and cheese sandwich for her - in the crate... sigh.

    Most dogs are better human trainers than the other way about.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hyacinth View Post

    Most dogs are better human trainers than the other way about.
    OOOh yea.
    Ain't that the truth.
    I pick my battles but mostly I like a win/win.
    They tell me I am an excellent door bitch.

    Any posts made under the name of Di_dee1 one can be used by anyone as I do not give a rats.

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    Every tradesperson coming onto our block is given strict instructions not to throw the ball. Within 5 minutes, without fail , you can check and there goes the dog chasing the ball.
    SHe teaches them by dropping the ball right into their laps and it works everytime.
    Nev Allen
    Border River Pet Resort

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    People are always amazed because Sammy is always looking at me - I guess I'm often looking at him too. I was told at training that he wasn't independent enough, that he wanted me to help him through everything. I agree to an extent, but maybe he just has learned that he gets better results when he works with me rather than just using the resources available to him as a dog. I think also he's a dog that likes to work with a partner, neither he nor I work well autonomously...

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    I like your view Bottles

    Bugga! the page wont load for me... can someone copy and paste it please
    Last edited by ChoppaChop; 06-05-2012 at 09:41 AM.
    GageDesign Pet Photography
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    Without the graphs though:

    Sometime between fifteen and thirty thousand years ago, probably in the Middle East, the long, protracted process of domestication began to alter the genetic code of the wolf, eventually leaving us with the animals we know and love as domestic dogs. While there are several different theories as to exactly how dog domestication began, what is clear is that there were some wolves who were less fearful of humans than others. Over time, those wolves were incorporated into early human settlements. Perhaps humans and early dogs learned to hunt cooperatively – both species hunt primarily by outrunning their prey – or perhaps early dogs instead learned that they could avoid hunting by scavenging on the leftovers of human hunting parties. Whatever the initial reason for the incorporation of wolves into human society, there their descendents still remain.

    By sharing an environment with humans, dogs left behind their ancestral environment and found a place in a new one. No longer would they have to hunt to eat; humans would come to provide for their care and feeding. It is probably no accident that the relationship between dogs and their owners mirrors the attachment relationship between parents and their children, behaviorally and physiologically. Indeed, humans who have strong bonds with their dogs have higher levels of oxytocin in their urine than those with weaker bonds.

    But it isn’t only the source of their food that changed as wolves became dogs; their entire social ecology changed. Instead of sharing social space primarily with other wolves, dogs came to treat humans as social partners. This is one of the critical differences between a domesticate and a wild animal that is simply habituated to the presence of humans. Domestication is a genetic process; habituation is an experiential one. Domestication alters nature, habituation is nurture.

    Several years ago, scientists at Eotvos University in Budapest wanted to determine whether the social-cognitive differences among dogs and wolves was primarily genetic or experiential. To do this, they hand-raised a group of dog puppies and a group of wolf pups from birth, resulting in roughly equivalent experiences. Any differences between the two groups’ social cognitive skills, then, would be attributable to genetics.

    Wolf and dog pups were raised by humans starting four to six days after birth, before their eyes had fully opened. For the first months of their lives, the wolf and dog pups were in close contact with their human foster parents nearly twenty-four hours per day. They lived in the homes of their caregivers and slept with them at night. They were bottle-fed, and starting on the fourth or fifth week of life, hand fed with solid food. Their human caregivers carried them in a pouch so that the wolf pups and dog puppies could participate in as much of their daily activities as possible: traveling on public transportation, attending classes, visiting friends, and so on. Each of the pups had extensive experience meeting unfamiliar humans, and at least twice a week, they were socialized with each other as well as with unfamiliar adult dogs. The guiding principle for the hand-rearing paradigm, according to the researchers, was based not upon competition or aggressive interactions, but “to behave rather like a mother than a dominant conspecific.”

    Would wolves, having been raised by humans, demonstrate social-cognitive skills that approached the sophistication of dogs? Or is social-cognitive aptitude encoded in dogs’ genes, a direct result of domestication?

    In one simple task, a plate of food was presented to the wolf pups (at 9 weeks) or to the dog puppies (both at 5 weeks and at 9 weeks). However, the food was inaccessible to the animals; human help would be required to access it. The trick to getting the food was simple: all the animals had to do was make eye contact with the experimenter, and he or she would reward the dog with the food from the plate. Initially, all the animals attempted in vain to reach the food. However, by the second minute of testing, dogs began to look towards the humans. This increased over time and by the fourth minute there was a statistical difference. Dogs were more likely to initiate eye contact with the human experimenter than the wolves were. This is no small feat; initiating eye contact with the experimenter requires that the animal refocus its attention from the food to the human. Not only did the wolf pups not spontaneously initiate eye contact with the human experimenter, but they also failed to learn that eye contact was the key to solving their problem.

    A second experiment, conducted when the wolves and puppies were between four and eleven months old, found similar results. Each animal was presented, in different testing sessions, with two different types of tasks. First, each of the wolves and dogs was trained to retrieve a food reward by opening a bin (in one task) or pulling a rope (in the second task). Then, after they had mastered the task, they were presented with an impossible version of the same problem. After attempting to retrieve the food, the dogs looked back towards the human caregivers. The wolves did no such thing. Dogs spontaneously initiated a communicative interaction with the humans earlier, and maintained it for longer periods of time, than did the human-reared wolves, who all but ignored their human caregivers.

    How much time passed before the animals would look back towards their human caregivers?

    Both dogs and wolves were equally adept at learning the two tasks, indicating that there were no group differences in terms of motivation or physical abilities, but large differences emerged when given impossible problems to solve. In both impossible tasks, as well as in the earlier eye contact experiment, dogs instinctively shifted their attention away from the food and towards the humans. Despite the fact that they had been fully socialized, the wolves treated each of the situations as physical problems rather than social ones. Only rarely did they ever attempt to engage in a communicative problem-solving interaction with a human. It’s not that wolves are unintelligent; it’s quite the opposite, in fact. Wolves are cooperative hunters, skilled at negotiating within their own social networks. It’s just that even after being raised by humans, wolves simply do not see humans as potential social partners. The dogs, however, quite rapidly took a social approach to solving each problem they were given. In one sense, this is a remarkable example of tool use. Only in this case, the humans were the tools, and the dogs the tool-users.

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    Thank you Beloz
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hyacinth View Post
    Very interesting.

    You should have seen the way my dog was looking at me (eye contact) and my lunch (alternately) today. It was intense.

    So I told her to go in the crate... but I saved a bit of toasted chicken and cheese sandwich for her - in the crate... sigh.

    Most dogs are better human trainers than the other way about.
    It is so true. They are very good at learning how to push the right buttons so to speak. If Sammy doesn't ask for any of my lunch, he doesn't get any because I forget about him whilst I'm eating my tasty food and know that he has his bowl of biscuits. But if he does ask, he knows exactly how forward he can be and can even adapt based on my mood. Actually trying to take the food or putting a paw on me is too far, but resting the head on my lap and staring up with soulful eyes - guaranteed every time.

  10. #10
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    I never, ever give my dog any of my food because I cannot stand someone staring at me while I eat. Let alone hassling me. So my dogs usually actively avoid eye contact when I'm eating. Might have something to do with me growling at them when they come too close to my plate too - I am allowed to resource guard, they are not. But now I mention it, Banjo grabbed half a chappatti (Indian bread) when I was eating dinner on the couch last night! I yelled just in time to prevent her from walking off with it. And it did make me laugh as I was trying to imagine what on earth she was thinking to attempt stealing my food so brazenly. I think it was because we had just been laughing with something she did and talking to her and she thought she would make the most of the jovial atmosphere or something. You can never blame them for trying...

    But asking for food never works at our place. I will decide when it's time to get fed. The cats have it better. If they meow or try to trip me often enough I will actually give in and feed them early. But I can happily make the dog wait until midnight if need be. No amount of eye contact is going to make any difference.

    When I read that article I had not even started thinking about how many every day examples there are of this. Opening doors is a classic too. And if I haven't noticed that the dog's inside water bowl is empty, staring at me and then at the bowl will get it filled promptly (or asking to be let outside to go drink there is another easy option). The one I love most is if they get a prickle in their foot and come to you for help. That just makes me melt.

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