One of our Canine Cognition Lab studies involves dogs coming in for 3 sessions, at least one week apart. Although there are a lot of challenges related to running multi-session studies (it is a big commitment for owners and requires a lot of organisation and scheduling) one lovely thing is that you really get to know the dogs and their owners. This week we were visited by Beaker (who has a strong social-media fanbase!) and his owner Monisa for the third time, and after the session she sent me some great photos. Thanks so much to Monisa and Beaker for taking part!
This week we ran some of our studies at a new location -- Good As Gold K9 School, about an hour north of Toronto. It was nice to get out of the city for a change, and we are really grateful to Nancy for allowing us to use her space (not to mention providing us with danish pastries as a much-needed afternoon snack!)
We had a super busy day working with 9 different dogs; below is a series of screenshots of one of them interacting with our puzzle box. I particularly love the central image, where she is anticipating the treat popping out of the box after performing the action.
We will return in August to follow up with some of the same dogs, and work with some new individuals.
We had another successful session at When Hounds Fly last Sunday. We worked with 6 dogs on a couple of our tasks -- from Lola the pug (see photo below) to Asher the Alaskan Malamute, who was probably the largest dog we have tested so far. Speaking of size, a paper just came out by Sarah Marshall-Pescini and colleagues, which investigates the effect of dog size and breed on problem solving ability -- definitely one for the 'must read' list. Whether different breeds perform differently in our tasks is definitely one of the most common questions I get asked by dog owners, but so far we haven't tested enough individuals of any particular breed to be able to answer that question (our policy so far has been anyone and everyone is welcome to participate). My intuition is that rather than being breed-related, performance may be influenced by factors including food motivation and type of training.
From L - R: Amanda, Sam, Emma (with Lola) and Julia. Thanks to Rebecca Thomas for the photo and tweet!
We were also delighted to have Verena Schleich -- a dog trainer at When Hounds Fly -- participate with her lovely doberman Athena. Verena is really interested in animal cognition, so it was great to chat with her about what we are doing. She wrote a blog post about her experience and we're hopefully going to chat more in the near future.
I'm currently in Charlotte, North Carolina awaiting a connecting flight to the Conference on Comparative Cognition in Florida so looking forward to hearing about lots of hot-off-the-press research!
I'm currently en route to Melbourne, Florida for the 2016 Conference on Comparative Cognition. I'm pretty excited as I've never been to this conference before and it is the first time Daphna and I will be presenting work from the U of T Canine Cognition Lab (see below), which we set up last summer. The talks are just 10 minutes which is pretty challenging, but writing such a short talk is a good process to go through as I find it helps me figure out what the really important, interesting points are and how to deliver them concisely. Looking forward to meeting some fellow canine cognition researchers (and researchers of all other species of course!) Also, the conference hotel is ON THE BEACH and we get mornings free! I think this might be the conference dream....
Yesterday was the first of four canine cognition sessions that we will be running at When Hounds Fly, Toronto. We worked with six lovely dogs on our physical reasoning and causal imitation tasks. We're incredibly grateful to Andre for letting us use their awesome facility and for inviting the WHF alumni to participate. Already looking forward to the next session!
We had a great first day running our cognition studies at All About Dogs on Saturday. We worked with 12 different dogs and got lots of great data. We were particularly blown away by the performance of a 13 week old puppy in our task investigating understanding of gravity and solidity... might pups be more flexible than older dogs? Or maybe he was a one off genius... definitely something to think more about!
Here are some photos showing a few of the different approaches used by dogs interacting with our treat-dispensing puzzle box...
I'm delighted that our abstract on probabilistic reasoning in capuchin monkeys has been accepted as a talk for the Cognitive Development Society 2015 Biennial Meeting! I will be talking about the ability of capuchin monkeys to make inferences about single-item samples drawn from populations consisting of a mixture of preferred and non-preferred items - a study that we conducted at Living Links, Edinburgh Zoo, UK. It will be my first time attending this conference as well as my first visit to Ohio... I look forward to meeting some new people and hearing about lots of exciting cognitive development research.