The order of ostensive and referential signals affects dogs’ responsiveness when interacting with a human

Tibor Tauzin, Andor Csík, Anna Kis, Krisztina Kovács, J. Topál

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Ostensive signals preceding referential cues are crucial in communication-based human knowledge acquisition processes. Since dogs are sensitive to both human ostensive and referential signals, here we investigate whether they also take into account the order of these signals and, in an object-choice task, respond to human pointing more readily when it is preceded by an ostensive cue indicating communicative intent. Adult pet dogs (n = 75) of different breeds were presented with different sequences of a three-step human action. In the relevant sequence (RS) condition, subjects were presented with an ostensive attention getter (verbal addressing and eye contact), followed by referential pointing at one of two identical targets and then a non-ostensive attention getter (clapping of hands). In the irrelevant sequence (IS) condition, the order of attention getters was swapped. We found that dogs chose the target indicated by pointing more frequently in the RS as compared to the IS condition. While dogs selected randomly between the target locations in the IS condition, they performed significantly better than chance in the RS condition. Based on a further control experiment (n = 22), it seems that this effect is not driven by the aversive or irrelevant nature of the non-ostensive cue. This suggests that dogs are sensitive to the order of signal sequences, and the exploitation of human referential pointing depends on the behaviour pattern in which the informing cue is embedded.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)975-979
Number of pages5
JournalAnimal Cognition
Volume18
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 10 2015

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Cues
Dogs
dogs
Pets
Protein Sorting Signals
signal peptide
animal communication
pets
hands
Hand
eyes
Communication
dog
communication
breeds
experiment

Keywords

  • Dog
  • Ostensive cues
  • Pointing
  • Referential communication
  • Signal sequence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology

Cite this

The order of ostensive and referential signals affects dogs’ responsiveness when interacting with a human. / Tauzin, Tibor; Csík, Andor; Kis, Anna; Kovács, Krisztina; Topál, J.

In: Animal Cognition, Vol. 18, No. 4, 10.07.2015, p. 975-979.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Tauzin, Tibor ; Csík, Andor ; Kis, Anna ; Kovács, Krisztina ; Topál, J. / The order of ostensive and referential signals affects dogs’ responsiveness when interacting with a human. In: Animal Cognition. 2015 ; Vol. 18, No. 4. pp. 975-979.
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