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Horn, L., Range, F., & Huber, L. (2013). Dogs’ attention towards humans depends on their relationship, not only on social familiarity. Animal Cognition, 16(3), 435–443.
Abstract: Both in humans and non-human animals, it has been shown that individuals attend more to those they have previously interacted with and/or they are more closely associated with than to unfamiliar individuals. Whether this preference is mediated by mere social familiarity based on exposure or by the specific relationship between the two individuals, however, remains unclear. The domestic dog is an interesting subject in this line of research as it lives in the human environment and regularly interacts with numerous humans, yet it often has a particularly close relationship with its owner. Therefore, we investigated how long dogs (Canis familiaris) would attend to the actions of two familiar humans and one unfamiliar experimenter, while varying whether dogs had a close relationship with only one or both familiar humans. Our data provide evidence that social familiarity by itself cannot account for dogs’ increased attention towards their owners since they only attended more to those familiar humans with whom they also had a close relationship.
Range, F., Horn, L., Bugnyar, T., Gajdon, G., & Huber, L. (2009). Social attention in keas, dogs, and human children. Anim. Cogn., 12(1), 181–192.
Abstract: Abstract: Understanding animals" abilities to cooperate with and learn from each other has been an active field of research in recent years. One important basis for all types of social interactions is the disposition of animals to pay attention to each other-a factor often neglected in discussions and experiments. Since attention differs between species as well as between individuals, it is likely to influence the amount and type of information different species and/or observers may extract from conspecifics in any given situation. Here, we carried out a standardized comparative study on attention towards a model demonstrating food-related behavior in keas, dogs and children. In a series of experimental sessions, individuals watched different conspecific models while searching, manipulating and feeding. Visual access to the demonstration was provided by two observation holes, which allowed us to determine exactly how often and for how long observers watched the model. We found profound differences in the factors that influence attention within as well as between the tested species. This study suggests that attention should be incorporated as an important variable when testing species in social situations.