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Domestic dogs are sensitive to a human's perspective

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image of Behaviour

We investigated dogs' ability to take the visual perspective of humans. In the main study, each of two toys was placed on the dog's side of two small barriers (one opaque, one transparent). In experimental conditions, a human sat on the opposite side of the barriers, such that she could see only the toy behind the transparent barrier. The experimenter then told the dog to 'Bring it here!' (without designating either toy in any way). In the Back Turned control E also sat on the opposite side but with her back turned so that she could see neither toy, and in the Same Side control she sat on the same side as the dog such that she could see both toys. When toys were differentiable dogs approached the toy behind the transparent barrier in experimental as compared to back turned and same side condition. Dogs did not differentiate between the two control conditions. In a second study dogs were not sensitive to what a human had or had not seen in the immediate past. These results suggest that, even in the absence of overt behavioural cues, dogs are sensitive to others visual access, even if that differs from their own.

Affiliations: 1: Sub Department of Animal Behaviour, University of Cambridge, High Street, Madingley, Cambridge, CB3 8AA, UK, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology Deutscher Platz 6, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany;, Email:; 2: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology Deutscher Platz 6, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany


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