Marked referential communicative behaviours, but no differentiation of the ``knowledge state'' of humans in untrained pet dogs versus 1-year-old infants


  • Gaunet Florence
  • El Massioui Farid

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The study examines whether untrained dogs and infants take their caregiver's visual experience into account when communicating with them. Fifteen adult dogs and 15 one-year-old infants were brought into play with their caregivers with one of their own toys. The caregiver gave the toy to the experimenter, who, in different conditions, placed it either above or under one of two containers, with both the infant or dog and the caregiver witnessing the positioning; in a third condition, the caregiver left the room before the toy was placed under one of the two containers and later returned. Afterwards, for each condition, the caregiver asked the participant to indicate the location of the toy. Neither dogs nor infants-untrained to the use of the partner's knowledge state-showed much difference of behaviour between the three conditions. However, dogs showed more persistence for most behaviours (gaze at the owner, gaze at the toy and gaze alternation) and conditions, suggesting that the situation made more demands on dogs' communicative behaviours than on those of infants. When all deictic behaviours of infants (arm points towards the toy and gaze at the toy) were taken into account, dogs and infants did not differ. Phylogeny, early experience and ontogeny may all play a role in the ways that both species communicate with adult humans.

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