From: University of Veterinary Medicine -- Vienna
Published September 15, 2017 11:21 AM

Wolves Understand Cause and Effect Better Than Dogs

A rattle will only make noise if you shake it. Children learn this principle of cause and effect early on in their lives. However, animals like the wolf also understand such connections and are better at this than their domesticated descendants. Researchers at the Wolf Science Center of the Vetmeduni Vienna say that wolves have a better causal understanding than dogs and that they follow human-given communicative cues equally well. The study in Scientific Reports provides the insight that the process of domestication can also affect an animal’s causal understanding.

A good example of the connection between cause and effect, is that an object which contains food produces noise when shaken. The study of an international research team at the Wolf Science Center of the Vetmeduni Vienna shows how animals deal with these rules of the physical world. Based on where dogs and wolves searched for food after receiving some hints about its location, they showed that our domesticated, four-legged companions cannot make the connection between cause and effect, but wolves can. These results indicate that domestication has changed the dogs’ cognitive abilities.

Wolves understand cause and effect, dogs do not

The researchers Michelle Lampe from the Radboud University in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, Juliane Bräuer from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Germany, Juliane Kaminski from the University of Portsmouth in England and Zsófia Virányi from the Vetmeduni Vienna in Austria investigated the reasoning abilities of 14 dogs and 12 human-socialized wolves. In this study, the animals had to make a choice between two objects, of which one contained hidden food and one was empty.

Read more at University of Veterinary Medicine -- Vienna

Image: Wolves are better in causal reasoning than dogs. (Credit: Michelle Lampe/Wolf Science Center)

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