Social Learning in Dogs

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Social learning is considered one of the most adaptive ways to gain information about several aspects of survival, such as avoiding predators and poisonous plants, solving problems, and obtaining food. It requires at least two individuals, who traditionally are called the 'demonstrator' and 'observer'. This phenomenon usually is manifested in a given level of matching between the actions of the two, after the observer has witnessed the behaviour of the demonstrator. Dogs represent a special case among other highly social species because they normally live in mixed groups with humans, where, since the beginning of their domestication, they have been exposed to human activity as a source of information, and also because of the selective pressure from humans for being sensitive to this kind of input. Therefore, the investigation of social learning in dogs is concentrated not only on species-specific issues of this type of information acquisition, but also on those unique capacities of dogs that may prove the particular effect domestication has had on them and the ways they learn from others.This chapter enumerates those empirical studies, which hallmark probably the best of those leaps that scientists have taken trying to resolve many intriguing questions about how dogs can (and sometimes cannot) learn from the various contexts of socially presented behaviours. Among these, we see whether dogs are prone to contagious yawning in the presence of a yawning human; we examine several attempts for tackling imitation in dogs, such as experiments with two-action tests, the fascinating 'Do as I do' paradigm, and the interesting theory of 'rational imitation'. We also follow multiple stages of detour tests on dogs which proved that a task that is seemingly simple for man's best friend to solve probably can be learned in multiple ways if the proper demonstration is performed. Finally, this chapter lists a few studies in which the functional aspect of social learning is emphasised. Among these, we discuss whether dogs can extract information about the location of food after they have met with a successfully foraging conspecific, and we see also how the rank of a dog in the hierarchy at home can affect its performance in a social learning test. In conclusion, we state that dogs utilise the information provided by the behaviour of their human and dog companions equally well. Most probably they are capable of learning with the help of several mechanisms, adapting their focus of attention accordingly to the given context, nature of a problem, and difficulty of a task. For further investigation, we propose more effort be put on discovering and testing cases of social learning in dogs in natural circumstances, or at least introducing more naturally occurring phenomena into the laboratories.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Social Dog: Behavior and Cognition
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Pages249-293
Number of pages45
ISBN (Print)9780124078185
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2014

Fingerprint

learning
Dogs
dogs
Demonstrations
Testing
Yawning
Experiments
domestication
Social Learning
testing
Toxic Plants
poisonous plants
Food
human behavior
information sources
Human Activities
Learning
foraging
predators
Survival

Keywords

  • Contagion
  • Demonstrator
  • Detour
  • Enhancement
  • Function
  • Imitation
  • Mechanism
  • Observer
  • Response facilitation
  • Social rank
  • Two-action test

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

Cite this

Pongrácz, P. (2014). Social Learning in Dogs. In The Social Dog: Behavior and Cognition (pp. 249-293). Elsevier Inc.. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-407818-5.00009-7

Social Learning in Dogs. / Pongrácz, P.

The Social Dog: Behavior and Cognition. Elsevier Inc., 2014. p. 249-293.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Pongrácz, P 2014, Social Learning in Dogs. in The Social Dog: Behavior and Cognition. Elsevier Inc., pp. 249-293. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-407818-5.00009-7
Pongrácz P. Social Learning in Dogs. In The Social Dog: Behavior and Cognition. Elsevier Inc. 2014. p. 249-293 https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-407818-5.00009-7
Pongrácz, P. / Social Learning in Dogs. The Social Dog: Behavior and Cognition. Elsevier Inc., 2014. pp. 249-293
@inbook{bd481594768a4d41bb32a6979e509924,
title = "Social Learning in Dogs",
abstract = "Social learning is considered one of the most adaptive ways to gain information about several aspects of survival, such as avoiding predators and poisonous plants, solving problems, and obtaining food. It requires at least two individuals, who traditionally are called the 'demonstrator' and 'observer'. This phenomenon usually is manifested in a given level of matching between the actions of the two, after the observer has witnessed the behaviour of the demonstrator. Dogs represent a special case among other highly social species because they normally live in mixed groups with humans, where, since the beginning of their domestication, they have been exposed to human activity as a source of information, and also because of the selective pressure from humans for being sensitive to this kind of input. Therefore, the investigation of social learning in dogs is concentrated not only on species-specific issues of this type of information acquisition, but also on those unique capacities of dogs that may prove the particular effect domestication has had on them and the ways they learn from others.This chapter enumerates those empirical studies, which hallmark probably the best of those leaps that scientists have taken trying to resolve many intriguing questions about how dogs can (and sometimes cannot) learn from the various contexts of socially presented behaviours. Among these, we see whether dogs are prone to contagious yawning in the presence of a yawning human; we examine several attempts for tackling imitation in dogs, such as experiments with two-action tests, the fascinating 'Do as I do' paradigm, and the interesting theory of 'rational imitation'. We also follow multiple stages of detour tests on dogs which proved that a task that is seemingly simple for man's best friend to solve probably can be learned in multiple ways if the proper demonstration is performed. Finally, this chapter lists a few studies in which the functional aspect of social learning is emphasised. Among these, we discuss whether dogs can extract information about the location of food after they have met with a successfully foraging conspecific, and we see also how the rank of a dog in the hierarchy at home can affect its performance in a social learning test. In conclusion, we state that dogs utilise the information provided by the behaviour of their human and dog companions equally well. Most probably they are capable of learning with the help of several mechanisms, adapting their focus of attention accordingly to the given context, nature of a problem, and difficulty of a task. For further investigation, we propose more effort be put on discovering and testing cases of social learning in dogs in natural circumstances, or at least introducing more naturally occurring phenomena into the laboratories.",
keywords = "Contagion, Demonstrator, Detour, Enhancement, Function, Imitation, Mechanism, Observer, Response facilitation, Social rank, Two-action test",
author = "P. Pongr{\'a}cz",
year = "2014",
month = "5",
doi = "10.1016/B978-0-12-407818-5.00009-7",
language = "English",
isbn = "9780124078185",
pages = "249--293",
booktitle = "The Social Dog: Behavior and Cognition",
publisher = "Elsevier Inc.",

}

TY - CHAP

T1 - Social Learning in Dogs

AU - Pongrácz, P.

PY - 2014/5

Y1 - 2014/5

N2 - Social learning is considered one of the most adaptive ways to gain information about several aspects of survival, such as avoiding predators and poisonous plants, solving problems, and obtaining food. It requires at least two individuals, who traditionally are called the 'demonstrator' and 'observer'. This phenomenon usually is manifested in a given level of matching between the actions of the two, after the observer has witnessed the behaviour of the demonstrator. Dogs represent a special case among other highly social species because they normally live in mixed groups with humans, where, since the beginning of their domestication, they have been exposed to human activity as a source of information, and also because of the selective pressure from humans for being sensitive to this kind of input. Therefore, the investigation of social learning in dogs is concentrated not only on species-specific issues of this type of information acquisition, but also on those unique capacities of dogs that may prove the particular effect domestication has had on them and the ways they learn from others.This chapter enumerates those empirical studies, which hallmark probably the best of those leaps that scientists have taken trying to resolve many intriguing questions about how dogs can (and sometimes cannot) learn from the various contexts of socially presented behaviours. Among these, we see whether dogs are prone to contagious yawning in the presence of a yawning human; we examine several attempts for tackling imitation in dogs, such as experiments with two-action tests, the fascinating 'Do as I do' paradigm, and the interesting theory of 'rational imitation'. We also follow multiple stages of detour tests on dogs which proved that a task that is seemingly simple for man's best friend to solve probably can be learned in multiple ways if the proper demonstration is performed. Finally, this chapter lists a few studies in which the functional aspect of social learning is emphasised. Among these, we discuss whether dogs can extract information about the location of food after they have met with a successfully foraging conspecific, and we see also how the rank of a dog in the hierarchy at home can affect its performance in a social learning test. In conclusion, we state that dogs utilise the information provided by the behaviour of their human and dog companions equally well. Most probably they are capable of learning with the help of several mechanisms, adapting their focus of attention accordingly to the given context, nature of a problem, and difficulty of a task. For further investigation, we propose more effort be put on discovering and testing cases of social learning in dogs in natural circumstances, or at least introducing more naturally occurring phenomena into the laboratories.

AB - Social learning is considered one of the most adaptive ways to gain information about several aspects of survival, such as avoiding predators and poisonous plants, solving problems, and obtaining food. It requires at least two individuals, who traditionally are called the 'demonstrator' and 'observer'. This phenomenon usually is manifested in a given level of matching between the actions of the two, after the observer has witnessed the behaviour of the demonstrator. Dogs represent a special case among other highly social species because they normally live in mixed groups with humans, where, since the beginning of their domestication, they have been exposed to human activity as a source of information, and also because of the selective pressure from humans for being sensitive to this kind of input. Therefore, the investigation of social learning in dogs is concentrated not only on species-specific issues of this type of information acquisition, but also on those unique capacities of dogs that may prove the particular effect domestication has had on them and the ways they learn from others.This chapter enumerates those empirical studies, which hallmark probably the best of those leaps that scientists have taken trying to resolve many intriguing questions about how dogs can (and sometimes cannot) learn from the various contexts of socially presented behaviours. Among these, we see whether dogs are prone to contagious yawning in the presence of a yawning human; we examine several attempts for tackling imitation in dogs, such as experiments with two-action tests, the fascinating 'Do as I do' paradigm, and the interesting theory of 'rational imitation'. We also follow multiple stages of detour tests on dogs which proved that a task that is seemingly simple for man's best friend to solve probably can be learned in multiple ways if the proper demonstration is performed. Finally, this chapter lists a few studies in which the functional aspect of social learning is emphasised. Among these, we discuss whether dogs can extract information about the location of food after they have met with a successfully foraging conspecific, and we see also how the rank of a dog in the hierarchy at home can affect its performance in a social learning test. In conclusion, we state that dogs utilise the information provided by the behaviour of their human and dog companions equally well. Most probably they are capable of learning with the help of several mechanisms, adapting their focus of attention accordingly to the given context, nature of a problem, and difficulty of a task. For further investigation, we propose more effort be put on discovering and testing cases of social learning in dogs in natural circumstances, or at least introducing more naturally occurring phenomena into the laboratories.

KW - Contagion

KW - Demonstrator

KW - Detour

KW - Enhancement

KW - Function

KW - Imitation

KW - Mechanism

KW - Observer

KW - Response facilitation

KW - Social rank

KW - Two-action test

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84904234461&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84904234461&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1016/B978-0-12-407818-5.00009-7

DO - 10.1016/B978-0-12-407818-5.00009-7

M3 - Chapter

SN - 9780124078185

SP - 249

EP - 293

BT - The Social Dog: Behavior and Cognition

PB - Elsevier Inc.

ER -