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Here’s why some dogs are better at problem-solving

Dogs' inhibitory control may play a role in their individual differences in solving problems.

By: IANS | London |
February 11, 2016 3:54:45 pm
Dogs do not transfer knowledge about physical rules from one physical problem-solving task to another, but rather approach each task as a novel problem. (Photo: Thinkstock) Dogs do not transfer knowledge about physical rules from one physical problem-solving task to another, but rather approach each task as a novel problem. (Photo: Thinkstock)

Pet dogs with the ability to ‘wait for a treat’ or what is called inhibitory control may be better at problem-solving, new research suggests.

Dogs’ inhibitory control, or the ability to inhibit or regulate attention or seek emotional responses, may play a role in their individual differences in problem-solving tasks, the study said.

For the study, the researchers investigated the effects of pet dogs’ experiences interacting with the physical environment and their individual differences in inhibitory control on their physical problem-solving ability.

(Also read: It’s official: Dogs are more loving than cats, says study)

A cohort of 40 pet Border Collie dogs were assigned to three different conditions, and tested in an intensive series of inhibitory control tasks, such as wait-for-treat, and cognitive measures.

The researchers said that playing with objects may help dogs learn about their environment, similar to how it helps human infants.

However, dogs do not transfer knowledge about physical rules from one physical problem-solving task to another, but rather approach each task as a novel problem, the findings, published in the journal PLOS ONE, revealed.

In addition, individual performance in these tasks may be influenced by the dog’s level of inhibitory control, said lead author Corsin Muller from University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, Austria.

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