Although gaze-following abilities have been demonstrated in a wide range of species, so far no clear evidence has been available for dogs. In the current study, we examined whether dogs follow human gaze behind an opaque barrier in two different contexts, in a foraging situation and in a non-foraging situation (food involved vs. food not involved in the situation). We assumed that dogs will spontaneously follow the human gaze and that the foraging context will have a positive effect on dogs’ gaze-following behaviour by causing an expectation in the dogs that food might be hidden somewhere in the room and might be communicated by the experimenter. This expectation presumably positively affects their motivational and attentional state. Here, we report that dogs show evidence of spontaneous gaze-following behind barriers in both situations. According to our findings, the dogs gazed earlier at the barrier in the indicated direction in both contexts. However, as we expected, the context also has some effect on dogs’ gaze-following behaviour, as more dogs gazed behind the barrier in the indicated direction in the foraging situation. The present results also support the idea that gaze-following is a characteristic skill in mammals which may more easily emerge in certain functional contexts.
- Inter-specific communication
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology