The Social Cognition of Domestic Dogs (Canis familiaris) During Cross-Species Interactions with Humans

Worsley, HK 2018, The Social Cognition of Domestic Dogs (Canis familiaris) During Cross-Species Interactions with Humans , PhD thesis, University of Salford.

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Domestic dog (Canis familiaris) research has revealed an impressive cognitive skillset within the species; however, little research is conducted in naturalistic settings. Thus, much of what is currently known about dog cognition comes from laboratory trials. This thesis explores the dog cognitive skillset, investigating their social cognition during cross-species interactions with humans in their homes. I examine five areas: 1) the gestural and vocal repertoire of dogs used during cross-species interactions; 2) the targeted solicitation and use of social companions through communication; 3) the understanding of human verbal phrases; 4) the understanding causal reasoning; and 5) whether hemispheric emotional processing in the brain is associated with ear temperature.

I investigated the communicative repertoire of dogs using a citizen science approach, thus maximising the data collection potential. The research revealed dogs possess a broad gestural and vocal repertoire that they use in cross-species communication. New evidence for intentionality and referential signalling in dog communication is also revealed. I then report how dogs use their cross-species communicative repertoires to employ humans to achieve inaccessible goals and discuss new terminology for this type of communication.

Using an experimental procedure comparable to naturalistic studies on non-human primates, I reveal that dogs understand human receive-request verbal phrases; an ability not previously demonstrated. I then report that dogs understand causality and reveal a new simple, inexpensive method for recording canine emotional hemispheric brain activity during behavioural trials.

Overall this thesis sheds light on important areas of dog behaviour including social cognition, the evolution of cross-species communication, and the dog-human bond. It is one if the first to fully embrace the citizen science principle to reveal the naturalistic behaviours that dogs use in the context of their daily lives. Taken together, these results demonstrate that dogs are a highly skilled socio-cognitive species.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Contributors: O'Hara, S (Supervisor)
Schools: Schools > School of Environment and Life Sciences
Depositing User: Hannah Kate Worsley
Date Deposited: 03 Oct 2018 10:43
Last Modified: 27 Aug 2021 23:53

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