The “Clever Dog Lab” is a scientific society linked to the Department of Cognitive Biology, University of Vienna. For detailed information please visit the website of the society – click on this picture:
Domestic dogs, since their divergence from wolves about 15,000 years ago, have become an integral part of the human communities. They are not only reared but also selected and bred to cooperate and communicate with humans, to predict their behaviour and to learn from them. For those outstanding collaborative capacities in dogs, that distinguish them from other animals, there may be three possible sources:
· Firstly, they may have inherited a tendency for cooperative and synchronous behaviour from their wolf-like ancestors, which were characterized by organized social dynamics of family groups and cooperative hunting. This ability might have enabled them to easily adapt to their new, human social groups.
· Secondly, during the course of domestication, dogs seem to have developed novel capabilities compared to wolves, which enable them to engage in cooperative and communicative situations with humans better than wolves do. This notion is supported by differences found in experimental comparisons between dogs and wolves – even if they were identically socialized by humans.
· Thirdly, in their individual life, dogs typically gain experiences and are trained to act cooperatively and in adaptation to human behaviour.
Consequently, dogs are promising subjects in behavioural and cognitive studies. Research at the Clever Dog Lab aims at studying the problem-solving and learning abilities of dogs, their perception of the environment and their relationships to humans.
Wolf Science Center
In May we opened our Wolf Science Center. Here, we study the cognitive abilities of wolves - which might also help also explain some of the behaviour we have noticed in dogs! More information about our Wolf Project is available at www.wolfscience.at!
With our newest study our dogs made in the cover of the American journal 'Proceedings of the Academy of Sciences'.
For further information about the study, look here.
Dr. Adam Miklosi, Department of Ethology, Eötvös Lorand University, Budapest, Hungary
Prof. Kurt Kotrschal, Konrad Lorenz Research Station, Grünau, Austria