Human Encouragement Might Affect How Well Dogs Solve Problems
A new study finds search and rescue dogs don’t perform independently as well as pet dogs do, even though they’re trained to work without assistance.
Researchers of the study published in Applied Animal Behaviour Science, presented search and rescue dogs and pet dogs with the same problem-solving task. As you may have guessed, search and rescue dogs were more successful than pet dogs at the task when their owners encouraged them. But, surprisingly they didn’t solve the task when they were alone, while pet dogs did solve it when they were alone.
The lead author of the study says the findings suggest communication between search and rescue dogs and their owners is more effective than communication between pet dogs and their owners.
An animal scientist told Science Daily the findings could be explained by the fact pet dogs may end up treating the puzzle like a toy, thinking they are playing rather than achieving a goal, while search and rescue dogs instead see the task as their job.