I know a dog when I see one: dogs (Canis familiaris) recognize dogs from videos

Paolo Mongillo, Carla Eatherington, Miina Lõoke, Lieta Marinelli (2021) Animal Cognition


Several aspects of dogs’ visual and social cognition have been explored using bi-dimensional representations of other dogs. It remains unclear, however, if dogs do recognize as dogs the stimuli depicted in such representations, especially with regard to videos. To test this, 32 pet dogs took part in a cross-modal violation of expectancy experiment, during which dogs were shown videos of either a dog and that of an unfamiliar animal, paired with either the sound of a dog barking or of an unfamiliar vocalization. While stimuli were being presented, dogs paid higher attention to the exit region of the presentation area, when the visual stimulus represented a dog than when it represented an unfamiliar species. After exposure to the stimuli, dogs’ attention to different parts of the presentation area depended on the specific combination of visual and auditory stimuli. Of relevance, dogs paid less attention to the central part of the presentation area and more to the entrance area after being exposed to the barking and dog video pair, than when either was paired with an unfamiliar stimulus. These results indicate dogs were surprised by the latter pairings, not by the former, and were interested in where the barking and dog pair came from, implying recognition of the two stimuli as belonging to a conspecific. The study represents the first demonstration that dogs can recognize other conspecifics in videos.

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