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The Yes Dog!, Issue #007 -- Generosity in Pet Dogs
January 15, 2016

Dog Training Excellence

Issue #007, January 15th 2016

Happy New Year to you all! Hope you had a great start of 2016. Have you started working on your resolutions already? I think generosity should be on everyone's list, including your dog's!

In this issue I will tell you about Generosity in Dogs, yes they can be good Samaritans too. We kind of knew that already, now we have science backing us up.

Feel free to drop me a line with questions, suggestions or even a theme you would like to see featured here.

You can send me a quick e-mail!

Hope 2016 brings you joy, health and happiness.

Table of Contents

The Science of Dog Training

Dog obedience training is based on scientific principles. Learn about current science research that help us better understand our canine friends! In this issue: Generosity in Dogs

Train your dog to...

Love the Crate! - Crate training can be a great tool, if done correctly. This protocol will help you teach your pooch to love the crate.

Featured Article

"Become a Successful Dog Walker" - Love dogs? Like to exercise? Start your own dog walking business!

Your Questions and Stories

Your question or story could be featured here! In this issue: Jumping Border Collie.

The Science of Dog Training

Generosity in Pet Dogs

A Review of Quervel-Chaumette M, Dale R, Marshall-Pescini S and Range F. Familiarity affects other-regarding preferences in pet dogs. Scientific Reports, December 2015.

Any dog owner already knows how generous dogs are, they already give us so much with their presence and love, right? But just how generous are they? It may be more than what you previously thought.

We humans are highly cooperative creatures; in fact cooperation at a large scale may have given us the ability to develop culture and create technology. To be a cooperative species, it is essential to show acts of kindness towards others, do things that benefit others without necessarily benefiting ourselves. We certainly see these acts of kindness among humans and even other primates, but can dogs show these types of behavior too?

They are certainly good candidates for the test since they are social animals that have cooperative behaviors such as teaming up with each other to defend a territory, raise pups and hunt. What’s more, we humans have bred pet dogs to help us defend our territory, hunt and retrieve objects for us, among other amazing tasks dogs do. However, all the examples above are driven by reward, dogs are trained to do certain tasks in order to obtain a reward for themselves. Could they offer selfless behaviors too? A group of scientists at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna, Austria designed and experiment to answer this question.

Experimenters used a behavior test called “bar-pulling task”. They built a two compartment cage for the dogs, dogs could see through these compartments. Then, they trained a group of dogs (they called them “Donor Dogs”) to pull on a bar to open a door and go to the adjacent compartment where they could eat a piece of food from a tray. Once the donor dogs learned the task, they then placed a second dog on the other compartment of the cage, so now, when the donor dog pulled on the bar the food would go to the other dog, not themselves. Did the dogs pull and share food with the other dog? Yes, but most often when the other dog was familiar to them. When the other dog was one they had never seen before, they did not share much.

The donor dog (right) can pull a tray and donate food to the receiver-dog (left).

Photo: Mylène Quervel-Chaumette/Vetmeduni Vienna

As any scientific experiment, controls exist to make sure the results are not due to other things affecting the task. Here are some examples of controls scientists used in this experiment:

  • Do the dogs pull on the bar because they liked pulling, instead of because they want to share the food with the other dog? No, because they wouldn’t pull on the bar when it did not deliver food at all.
  • Do the dogs pull on the bar simply because the other dog is present and they crave social contact or because they liked the enrichment of having the other dog? No, a control trial was design in which the second dog was placed near the donor dog, but outside the cage (so the second dog couldn't get the reward). In this case donor dogs did not pull on the bar as often.
  • Did donor dogs avoid pulling on the bar when a stranger dog was present because they were uncomfortable by their presence or distracted sniffing them? No, experimenters specifically recorded stress signals on each trial and saw almost none. In addition, dogs rarely interacted with each other and if they were sniffing each other, then they would delay the start of the test until dogs were done and paying attention.

This study suggests that dogs do have behaviors that benefit others, without benefiting themselves, at least towards other familiar dogs. Would they act the same way towards familiar humans? how about familiar pet cats? Is this trait unique to pet dogs, or do other canid species share it as well?

One thing is sure, the results don’t surprise me completely but I am glad it is being studied, the more we know about our canine best friends, the stronger our bond with them can become.

If you have any stories about your pet dog doing altruistic things,PLEASE share it with us! You can do so by clicking this link.

You can read the original article and even see a video of the experiment in the supplementary information by clicking here.

Train your dog to...

Love the Crate!

Crate training a puppy can be a life saver, specially for the puppy! It can help with potty training schedules and prevent home destruction as well. This article will tell you step-by-step what to do so your puppy loves to go and stay on his/her crate.

Follow this link for more information and training tips to help you teach your puppy love its crate.

Featured Article

Become a Successful Dog Walker

Dog training tips, dog behavior information, creative and cheap marketing, insurance and legal information. Find everything you need to start a dog walking business in this article.

Click! for the Complete Dog Walker Guide.

Your Questions and Stories

This section is for you to brag about your dog! You can also ask questions (and get answers), tell us your advice or share an interesting anecdote.

Your story could be featured in The Yes Dog! And will get its own webpage that you can share with friends and family. Click here to share!

This issue's featured question is about A Jumping dog. Puppy jumping on people is very common, dog simply like to say Hi to our faces, which happen to be high. This border collie owner wondered how to stop the behavior. The first step is to start early!

Click here to add your comments to this question!

That is all for now.

Happy 2016!

Until the next time,
Dog Training Excellence

P.S: Would you like to have your own website? It is easier than you think. I had no knowledge about the web but here I am! You can have yours too... watch the Site Build It! Video Tour.


Copyright © 2012-2016 Natalia Rozas de O'Laughlin. All Rights Reserved.

Unauthorized duplication or publication of any materials prohibited.

Not intended to substitute for veterinary, legal or other professional advice.

Consult your vet for advice about medical or behavioral conditions & treatment of your pet.

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