Examination of Age-Related Anticipatory and Giving Up Behaviors in Family Dogs
Carson, Rachel S.
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The present study was an extension of Piotti et al. (2018), which further developed two spatial tasks (discrimination and reversal learning), that could be conducted in a single, one hour session to identify age-related differences in spatial learning. The objectives of the present study were to observe age-related anticipatory and “giving up” behaviors during the learning tasks. Additionally, we were interested in whether there was an effect of age (old vs. young), stimulus type (location vs. color), or learning type (discrimination vs. reversal learning) on observable “giving up behaviors”. Subjects included 101 dogs: “young” (N = 40, aged 2.5-6 years) and “old” (N = 61, aged 9-14.5 years), using a video coding software called Solomon Coder. Data were analyzed using IBM SPSS Statistics version 25 using a 2 (old; young) x 2 (discrimination learning; reversal learning) x 2 (color; location) mixed factorial analysis of variance (ANOVA). The results indicated that the frequency of the “giving up behavior”, “Latency” was significantly higher for the old dogs as compared to the young dogs. Results were inconsistent with the other hypotheses, as there were no age-related differences for learning type or stimulus between the young and old dogs for any of the other behaviors. As the results do not support the hypothesis, this may indicate that there may be more effective methods for detecting anticipatory or “giving up behaviors” in pet dogs; which may include owner observations pertaining to behavioral changes and questionnaires addressing these types of behaviors in the dogs’ home environment.