Vol. 3 No. 2 (2017)

Dog attention towards the owner in two insoluble problem-solving tasks: a pilot study about the effect of skull conformation and selection to cooperate with man

Marcella Zilocchi
Department of Veterinary Science
Asahi Ogi
Department of Veterinary Science
Claudio Sighieri
Department of Veterinary Science

Published 2017-09-26


  • ,
  • attention to owner,
  • brachycephalic,
  • dog,
  • problem solving


The aim of this study was to evaluate whether brachycephalic breeds selected for companionship or for utility behave differently for the attention paid to the owner in two insoluble problem-solving tasks. Eleven adult dogs, 5 belonging to companion breeds and 6 belonging to breeds selected for utility were involved. The study consisted of two behavioral tests (“bin-opening” and “rope-pulling”). After the training, dogs were subjected to two kinds of insoluble problem-solving tasks. The statistical analysis did not show any differences in the first test “bin-opening” (latency: U = 13.5, p = 0.93; number of gazes: U = 14.5; p = 0.79) nor in the second one “rope-pulling” (latency: U = 13.5, p =0.93; number of glances: U = 11.0; p = 0.54).

Our preliminary results suggest that within the group of brachycephalic dogs there are no differences in the attention paid to the owner in situations that require collaboration with him/her, despite the different selection carried out within this group of dogs according to the functions to be performed by different breeds.

Given the small number of subjects tested, further research is needed to verify whether the selection for fighting influence the human-directed gazing.