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Dogs take into account the actions of a human partner in a cooperative task

Cite this dataset

Martinez, Mayte; Robinson, Lauren M.; Brosnan, Sarah F.; Range, Friederike (2023). Dogs take into account the actions of a human partner in a cooperative task [Dataset]. Dryad.


Humans stand out for their capacity to flexibly cooperate, possibly because they understand their partners’ role. Researchers have explored if such understanding is unique to humans by assessing whether non-human species wait to manipulate a cooperative apparatus until a delayed partner arrives. If animals do wait, then it is assumed that they recognize the need for a partner. However, success in these tasks may be the result of social facilitation, while failure may be due to poor inhibitory control. Moreover, this approach does not test if animals take their partners’ actions into account. Here we trained dogs to press a button simultaneously with their human partner. Afterwards, we tested them in several conditions to disentangle which elements of their partner’s behaviour they take into account. Dogs waited to press the button until: the arrival of a delayed partner, the button was available to the partner, and the partner acted (pressed the button). We found no relationship between inhibitory control and success. We conclude that dogs are not merely reacting to the presence of their human partners, but are also taking their actions into account when coordinating with them.


FWF Austrian Science Fund