Persistence in object manipulation has been consistently associated with problem-solving success and it is known to be affected, at the individual level, by life experience. Differences in life experiences are particularly poorly studied in the problem-solving context and mainly refer to the comparison between wild and captive animals. Dogs represent interesting study subjects, since dog populations differ widely in their life experiences. In this comparative study we investigated subjects' persistence when presenting a novel object containing food that could not be accessed (impossible task) to three dog populations with very diverse life experiences: free-ranging village dogs (in Morocco), pet dogs (in Vienna) and captive pack living dogs (Wolf Science Center-WSC). We found that pet dogs and captive dogs (WSC) were more manipulative and persistent than free-ranging dogs. The low persistence of free ranging-dogs is unlikely the effect of a lack of exposure to objects, since they are confronted with many human' artefacts in their environment daily. Instead, we suggest that the higher persistence of captive dogs and pet dogs in comparison to free-ranging dogs might be due to their increased experience of human-mediated object interaction. This provides subjects with a socially guided experience in manipulating and interacting with objects increasing their motivation to engage in such tasks.
Animals Austria Behavior, Animal Dogspsychology Female Humans Male Morocco Petspsychology Problem Solving Wolvespsychology