Behaviour 2019
Search
The speed of senses: A citizen science study into dogs' alacrity to pursue olfactory and auditory cues
Blakeley Bagwell, Veronica Leifer, Carol Arellano, Gabriella Smith, Alexandra Horowitz. Barnard College, New York, NY, United States

Dog cognition research is predicated on the assumption that subjects' perception of the provided task is similar to our own. Recently, some studies have asked whether non-visual cues also contribute to dogs' performance, and if there is any priority of sensory processing that affects subject behavior. In this citizen-science study, 51 dogs and owners generated data on dogs' choice of two containers, one paired with a cue: either an audio clip of food being poured into a bowl, or an odor trail of the food. Researchers scored the videos for subject choice and latency to approach a container. Dogs used both auditory and olfactory cues to make their selection; moreover, they were faster to approach a container based on an auditory cue than on an olfactory cue (Mann Whitney U test, p < .001). This result contributes to an understanding of sensory processing hierarchies in dogs in solving simple problems such as food search. These results can be used to better understand how subjects in dog-cognition research are interpreting the stimuli presented to them. Finally, this task exemplifies the advantages and challenges of data collection with citizen scientists.