The ‘Do as I Do’ as a new method for studying imitation in dogs: Is the dog a copycat?
Keywords:Do as I Do, imitation, dog, two-action method, social learning
AbstractThe study of imitation in non-human animals has always been challenging, especially from a methodological perspective. Recently, the Do as I Do method – and modified versions of it – have provided solid evidence of imitation in dogs and constitute the basis for more in depth studies on different topics related to imitation. The Do as I Do method is especially advantageous for testing imitation of novel actions, action sequences, intransitive actions as well as deferred imitation, while excluding other possible practical problems which could be the cause of some negative results (i.e. subjects’ lack of understanding of the task). The combination of the Do as I Do method with the two-action procedure also allows to control for other non-imitative processes that may result in behavioural similarity between demonstrator and observer. Modified version of the Do as I Do method can unfold dogs’ cognitive abilities that could not be revealed by other methods (e.g., episodic memory, generalization of imitation).