Is a local sample internationally representative? Reproducibility of four cognitive tests in family dogs across testing sites and breeds

Szabó, Dóra and Mills, Daniel S. and Range, Friederike and Virányi, Zsófia and Miklósi, Ádám (2017) Is a local sample internationally representative? Reproducibility of four cognitive tests in family dogs across testing sites and breeds. Animal Cognition, 20 (6). pp. 1019-1033. ISSN 1435-9448

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Abstract

A fundamental precept of the scientifc method is reproducibility of methods and results, and there is growing concern over the failure to reproduce signifcant results. Family dogs have become a favoured species in comparative cognition research, but they may be subject to cognitive diferences arising from genetic (breeding lines) or cultural diferences (e.g. preferred training methods). Such variation is of concern as it afects the validity and generalisability of experimental results. Despite its importance, this problem has not been specifcally addressed to date. Therefore, we aimed to test the infuence of three factors on reproducibility: testing site (proximal environment), breed and sex (phenotype). The same experimenter tested cognitive performance by more than 200 dogs in four experiments. Additionally, dogs’ performance was tested in an obedience task administered by the owner. Breed of dog and testing site were found to infuence the level of performance only mildly, and only in a means-end experiment and the obedience task. Our fndings demonstrate that by applying the same test protocols on sufciently large samples, the reported phenomena in these cognitive tests can be reproduced, but slight diferences in performance levels can occur between diferent samples. Accordingly, we recommend the utilisation of well-described protocols supported by video examples of the whole experimental procedure. Findings should focus on the main outcome variables of the experiments, rather than speculating about the general importance of small or secondary performance outcomes which are more susceptible to random or local noise

Keywords:Behaviour tests, Reproducibility, Replicability, Dog, Cross-country comparison, Breed comparison, bmjconvert
Subjects:D Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects > D300 Animal Science
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
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ID Code:29606
Deposited On:14 Nov 2017 20:40

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