Man's Best Friend Shares Food Rewards With Other Dogs, New Research Finds

It is a generally accepted fact that human beings are social animals who tend to help each other during tough situations.

Now, a new study reveals that man's best friend such as dogs show similar behavior when it comes to sharing food with others.

Studies performed by the behavioral biologists at the Messerli Research Institute located at Vetmeduni in Vienna, Austria, suggest that even dogs share their food with friends in harsh situations.

It is an established fact that chimpanzees, rats, and several other animals have exhibited this generosity pattern which is usually considered to be a human trait.

The new study was centered on a rather difficult task, which was to understand the prosocial behavior of dogs.

The researchers demonstrated via a bar-pulling task that canines share their meal with anyone in their species, especially when both of them know each other already.

The evaluation process also portrayed that canines continue to prefer partner dogs although the given task may have influenced them to share their food with other animals.

Research Methodology And Findings

Unlike previous methods that involved pulling a rope, this time round, the dog needed to identify a special object just like a token so that it could give it's meal to another dog.

"The dogs were first trained to touch a token in exchange for a food reward for themselves. They were then trained to recognize two more tokens: one that resulted in a reward being delivered to a partner dog and another which did not," revealed Rachel Dale, one of the researchers.

Three experiments took place to test if the dog portrays the prosocial behavior in this intricate task and rewards the other with the food or not. The test also aimed to find out whether the dog continued to favor a familiar face or not and if the animal was showing a similar generosity even when its partner did not have any access to the food.

In the first experiment, the dogs were able to see one another, whereas during the second one the receiver enclosure was empty; however, the donor dog was present in the observation room. Finally, in the third experiment, the two dogs were by themselves in the testing area.

The tests further affirmed that the canines were more generous to familiar faces because the unknown dogs were rewarded almost three times less than the known ones.

Friederike Range, a research team member, noted that the differences were not that big since the dogs could see one another. Therefore, he avers that social facilitation should be controlled and considered in future studies. It should also be present during simple experiments.

The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE.

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