Effect of Sex and Reproductive Status on Inhibitory Control and Social Cognition in the Domestic Dog (Canis familiaris)

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Junttila, S.; Huohvanainen, S.; Tiira, K. Effect of Sex and Reproductive Status on Inhibitory Control and Social Cognition in the Domestic Dog (Canis familiaris). Animals 2021, 11, 2448.

Title: Effect of Sex and Reproductive Status on Inhibitory Control and Social Cognition in the Domestic Dog (Canis familiaris)
Author: Junttila, Saara; Huohvanainen, Salla; Tiira, Katriina
Publisher: Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute
Date: 2021-08-20
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/333685
Abstract: Sex differences in a variety of cognitive traits have long been reported in various species, including dogs. However, only a few canine studies have taken the possible effect of reproductive hormones into account. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of sex and reproductive status of pet dogs (<i>N</i> = 1032) on two cognitive traits: inhibitory control and social cognition. Inhibitory control was assessed using the cylinder test, and the dogs’ tendency to initiate social contact with a human during a problem-solving situation was assessed using the unsolvable task. Female dogs had a significantly higher success rate in the cylinder test compared to males, and they spent significantly more time in human-directed behavior during the unsolvable task. In contrast, males spent significantly more time in independent behavior during the unsolvable task. Reproductive status had no significant effect on the results of the cylinder test or the unsolvable task. Our results showed that female dogs asked for more help/used a more cooperative strategy during a problem-solving situation and had greater inhibitory control compared to males. According to our results, it seems likely that these sex differences were not influenced to a large extent by reproductive hormones.


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