Tuesday Training Tips with Tuff Tuesday Oct 13, 2020 Canine Cognition


Tuesday Training Tips with Tuff

Tuesday Oct 13, 2020

Canine Cognition

Dogs have occupied a central place in modern comparative cognition, partly because of their specific past and present relationship with humans. Over the years, we have gained insights about the functioning of the dog’s mind, which has helped us to understand how dogs’ problem-solving abilities differ from those present in related species such as the wolf. Novel methodologies are also emerging that allow for the study of neural and genetic mechanisms that control mental functions. 

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Cognitive studies focus on how perception, learning, memory, and decision-making support problem-solving behavior (). Although it is difficult to account for dogs’ cognitive traits in terms of fitness as estimated by modern behavior ecology, there is a general consensus that social-cognitive skills in particular clearly contribute to dogs’ survival in an anthropogenic environment.
Our understanding of mental representation in dogs has been greatly enhanced by the ability to follow the eye movements of dogs. Eye tracking allows for the monitoring of attention, including interest, preference, and also some aspects of planning. Dogs’ eye movements follow the gaze of their human partner if he or she displays communicative intent (), and dogs scan the human face differently depending on the emotion displayed ().
Perceptual processes such as recognition, matching, and categorization are important features of cognitive functioning. The application of touch-screen devices may lead to deeper insight into how dogs deal with social and communicative stimuli. The screen serves as a medium for presenting different kinds of stimuli for the dogs to choose from. As a first step, dogs are trained to associate correct responses with a food reward. After particular training experience, dogs are presented with a new choice for the first time, which reveals the underlying reasoning process. 
Social cognition is the domain in which we have most information. Dogs have an impressive ability to use other animals’ behavior (particularly the behavior of humans) as a cue. Dogs also have impressive capacities for social learning, and they seem to do better at these tasks than any other carnivorans.  Dogs perform as well as or better than other domestic animals on social learning tests. 
The domestic dog’s accessibility, social intelligence, and evolutionary history with humans have led to increasing interest in canine cognition.  However, the demonstration that dogs can be trained to cooperatively participate in fMRI studies has opened up a wealth of new data about canine brain function. Many of these studies have investigated the dog’s preternatural social intelligence, focusing on neural pathways associated with different types of reward, including social reward, and face and vocal processing. These studies have implications for our understanding of canine brain function, and potentially, because of dogs’ close relations with humans, for models of human development and pathology.
Through these studies we have taken canine cognition and games to build confidence in dogs and teach social cues and life skills. (Berns, 2016)

Here is a Cognitive Game you can play with your dogs that is all about decision making.  

Which Hand Game:  Have a few treats already set aside before starting game, play game at the dogs level, on the floor, or bend down into the dogs space.  Place one treat in one hand and make a fist, make a fist with the empty hand and present both fits to the dog with hands about 6 inches apart and ask the dog to choose "Which one" or similar command, just be consistent in the command.  When the dog acknowledges one hand over the other by visual cue, touching with nose, or touching with paw open the hand.  If the treat is in that hand reward with the treat.  If the dog chooses the hand that does not have the treat, open the empty hand and say not that one its this one as opening the hand with the treat and giving the reward.  Repeat.

Problem solving:  If the dog continues to pick the same hand repeatedly place a treat in each hand, encourage the dog to choose the other hand once the first hand choice has been exhausted. 
Let us know know how your game went in the comment section!!!  

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Kristi May MS, CVPM, LVMT, BSA, AHT, ABCDT, CHA Cert Riding Lesson Instructor, CHA EFM, Cert Equine Nutrition, Cert Animal Cognitive Behavior

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 Berns, G. S., & Cook, P. F. (2016). Why Did the Dog Walk Into the MRI? Current Directions in Psychological Science, 25(5), 363–369. https://doi.org/10.1177/0963721416665006

Lea, S.E.G., Osthaus, B. In what sense are dogs special? Canine cognition in comparative context. Learn Behav 46, 335–363 (2018). https://doi.org/10.3758/s13420-018-0349-7

Miklósi, Á., & Kubinyi, E. (2016). Current Trends in Canine Problem-Solving and Cognition. Current directions in psychological science25(5), 300–306. https://doi.org/10.1177/096372141666606


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