Dogs are naturally generous. They are also inclined to share their treats with the congeners they know. These are the main conclusions reached by researchers at an Austrian university.
Rachel Dale and her fellow researchers at the Messerli Research Institute, part of the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna , Austria, conducted a study on social facilitation in dogs . It is a social phenomenon whereby an individual’s actions are enhanced by the mere presence of one or more others . The results of this research were published in December 2016 in the journal Plos One .
This work consisted in making different tests to dogs that had been previously trained to touch a token to obtain a treat as a reward. They then learned to recognize 2 other tokens : one delivered a treat to a dog other than the one tested, the other giving no result. Each dog was placed in an enclosure during the experiment and subjected to different scenarios. In one of them, the canine could see his fellow creature – which he already knew or not – placed in an adjacent enclosure. In another, the tested animal and the partner dog were in the same pen . In the 3rd, he was alone.
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The study authors found that, in the majority of cases, the dogs tested showed a desire to share treats with quadrupeds they knew . They also found that canines were 3 times less likely to share with those they had never met before. In contrast, experimentation revealed that when they were alone , dogs were significantly less likely to seek rewards . And it is precisely here that the notion of social facilitation comes into play.