Training improves inhibitory control in water rescue dogs
Inhibitory control is a collection of several processes that are aimed to refrain from any impulsive response in the subject during inappropriate situations. Evidence suggests that in dogs, the inhibitory control is affected by domestication process, but also experiences during ontogeny could be an important driver in acquiring inhibitory control. The aim of the study was to compare the performance of highly trained dogs (i.e., water rescue dogs) and pet dogs in the A-not-B task. In this procedure, the animals have to inhibit their urge of going to a previous reinforced place. The results showed that the trained dogs committed fewer errors in the task than the pet dogs suggesting a better inhibitory control. This result could indicate that inhibitory control is a flexible ability affected by ontogenetic processes such as the training experience.
KeywordsInhibitory control A-not-B task Water rescue dogs Pet dogs.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest to declare.
This study was approved by the Ethical Animal Care and Use Committee of the University of Naples “Federico II” (protocol number 2017/0025509). All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed. All owners expressed their verbal consent for the participation of the dogs in this protocol.
- Diamond A (2013) Executive functions. Annu Rev Psychol 64:135–168. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-psych-113011-143750 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Marshall-Pescini S, Valsecchi P, Petak I, Accorsi PA, Prato-Previde E (2008) Does training make you smarter? The effects of training on dogs’ performance in a problem solving task. Behav Process 78:449–454. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.beproc.2008.02.022
- Wright H, Mills D, Pollux P (2011) Development and validation of a psychometric tool for assessing impulsivity in the domestic dog (Canis familiaris). Int J Comp Psychol 24:210–225. https://escholarship.org/uc/item/7pb1j56q