Washington: How do dogs learn to beg for food or behave badly,
particularly when they are not paid any attention? Itís a combination of
specific cues, context and previous experience, say researchers.
How your pet comes to respond to the level of peopleís attentiveness
tells us something about the way dogs think and learn about human
behaviour, says University of Floridaís Monique Udell, who conducted the
study with her team. Their research suggests it is down to a combination
of specific cues, context and previous experience, reports the journal
Learning & Behaviour.
Recent work has identified a remarkable range of human-like social
behaviours, including dogsí ability to respond to human body language,
verbal commands, and to attentional states, according to a Florida
Udell and team carried out two experiments comparing the performance
of pet dogs, shelter dogs and wolves given the opportunity to beg for
food from either an attentive person or from a person unable to see the
They showed for the first time that wolves, like domestic dogs, are
capable of begging successfully for food by approaching the attentive
human. This demonstrates that both species have the capacity to behave
in accordance with a humanís attentional state.
Besides, both wolves and pet dogs were able to rapidly improve their
performance with practice. The authors also found that dogs were not
sensitive to all visual cues of a humanís attention. Pet dogs are more
sensitive to stimuli predicting attentive humans.