Animal Cognition

, Volume 22, Issue 6, pp 931–946 | Cite as

Motoric self-regulation by sled dogs and pet dogs and the acute effect of carbohydrate source in sled dogs

  • Debbie M. KellyEmail author
  • Jennifer L. Adolphe
  • Alizée Vernouillet
  • J. Andrew McCausland
  • Alexandra Rankovic
  • Adronie Verbrugghe
Original Paper


Inhibitory control is a term used to envelop a collection of processes that allow an organism to refrain from engaging in an inappropriate prepotent or responsive behavior. Studies have examined the propensity of inhibitory control by nonhuman animals, from the cognitively complex processes involved in self-control to potentially less cognitively taxing processes such as motoric self-regulation. Focusing on canines, research has suggested that the domestication process as well as experiences during ontogeny contribute to inhibitory control. Diet may also play an important role in an individual’s ability to self-regulate. This study examined this possibility by investigating motoric self-regulation in sled dogs, using three well-established tasks (i.e., A-not-B Bucket, Cylinder, and A-not-B Barrier tasks), performed after consumption of one of three dietary treatments with different glycemic index values. We also compared the performance of sled dogs during these tasks with results previously obtained from pet dogs. Overall, the results show many similarities in the performance of sled dogs and pet dogs on the motoric self-regulation tasks, with the notable exception that sled dogs may have a stronger spatial perseveration during the A-not-B Bucket task. Previous research findings reporting a lack of correlation among these tasks are also supported. Finally, during the early postprandial phase (period after consumption), dietary treatments with different glycemic index values did not influence self-regulatory performance for sled dogs.


Carbohydrate Glycemic index Inhibitory control Motoric self-regulation Sled dogs 



We would very much like to thank the owner’s of the sled dogs for lending us the facilities and access to their sled dogs to perform our experiments. We would like to thank Laura Stiles for assistance with data scoring. AdV, DMK, JA designed the study; DMK, AlV and JAM conducted the behavioral experiments; AdV, JA, AR designed the nutritional components, AlV and DMK analyzed the data, and all authors contributed to writing and editing the manuscript.


This study was funded by a Natural Science & Engineering Research Council Collaborative Research Development grant (#CRDPJ488705–15) in partnership with Petcurean Pet Nutrition to AdV, DMK and JA. JA is an employee with Petcurean Pet Nutrition.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Authors AdV, DMK and JA received funding by a Natural Science & Engineering Research Council Collaborative Research Development grant (#CRDPJ488705–15) in partnership with Petcurean Pet Nutrition to JA, who is an employee with Petcurean Pet Nutrition. Authors AdV, DMK and JA declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed.

Supplementary material

10071_2019_1285_MOESM1_ESM.docx (16 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 16 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada
  2. 2.PetcureanChilliwackCanada
  3. 3.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada
  4. 4.Department of Clinical Studies, Ontario Veterinary CollegeUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada

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