16:32 30 January 2017
Previous research has already confirmed that like humans, dogs share their treats and are more likely to be generous with dogs they are familiar with.
Now, scientists have taken the experiment a step further, using a complex set up to see just how far this prosocial behaviour extends. The study found that even in more difficult tasks, dogs still share treats with others.
Rachel Dale of the Messerli Research Institute at Vetmeduni Vienna, said: ‘This time we not only tested a different experimental set-up but also the level of difficulty,’
‘The dogs were first trained to touch a token in exchange for a food reward for themselves.
‘They were then trained to recognize two or more tokens: one that resulted in a reward being delivered to a partner dog and one which did not.’
Researchers also found that the presence of another dog could motivate the dog to share treats. The sharing behaviour decreased when the dogs were alone.
‘The difference was smaller, however, than when there was direct visual contact,’ says Friederike Range.
‘Social facilitation should therefore be considered and controlled more strongly in future studies and in simple experiments.’
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