Animal Cognition

, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 127–131 | Cite as

Training improves inhibitory control in water rescue dogs

  • Gabriela Barrera
  • Alessandra Alterisio
  • Anna Scandurra
  • Mariana Bentosela
  • Biagio D’AnielloEmail author
Short Communication


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.


Inhibitory 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.

Ethical statement

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.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Canid Behavior Research Group (ICOC)Institute of Veterinary Sciences of the Litoral (ICIVET Litoral), UNL-CONICETSanta FeArgentina
  2. 2.Department of BiologyUniversity of Naples Federico IINaplesItaly
  3. 3.Canid Behavior Research Group (ICOC)Institute of Medical Research (IDIM, CONICET-UBA)Buenos AiresArgentina

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