Limitations in the learning of verbal content by dogs during the training of OBJECT and ACTION commands

Daniela, Ramos and Mills, Daniel (2019) Limitations in the learning of verbal content by dogs during the training of OBJECT and ACTION commands. Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, 31 . pp. 92-99. ISSN 1558-7878

Full content URL: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jveb.2019.03.011

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Limitations in the learning of verbal content by dogs during the training of OBJECT and ACTION commands
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Abstract

Dogs have been shown to be able to respond to a variety of forms of verbally based referential communication from people. However, it is unclear how these abilities develop or what a word actually represents to a dog. In two experiments, eighteen dogs were trained to respond to two different verbal commands independently. In one experiment, the two words were used to directing the dog towards a specific object (OBJECT commands). In the other experiment the words were intended to direct the dog towards a specific action (ACTION commands). Subjects were then required to undertake a simultaneous discrimination within each type of command in a given context, in order to assess their representation of the semantic content of the commands. Dogs did not appear to use the content of the verbal command to guide their specific behaviour in the initial assessment. Further training in a discrimination context to encourage attention to the verbal command had a variable effect on subjects. Only one dog reliably succeeded with the OBJECT commands, but 13 dogs succeeded with the ACTION commands. These results suggest that, in general, pet dogs do not appear to be especially attentive to the verbal content of commands for guiding their responses to spoken commands. This is in contrast to their tendency to use certain visual communicative signals such as gaze and pointing. The results also suggest that dogs might be more predisposed to associate verbal commands with actions rather than objects. These predispositions may not be apparent in many day-to-day interactions with dogs but may explain some apparently anomalous behaviour and are important to appreciate if we wish to maximise the efficiency of training to verbal commands.

Keywords:action, command, communication, learning, objects, word
Subjects:D Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects > D390 Veterinary Sciences not elsewhere classified
D Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects > D300 Animal Science
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
ID Code:35554
Deposited On:11 Apr 2019 11:48

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