Evidence for win-stay-lose-shift in puppies and adult dogs

AbstractMany organisms encounter situations where they lack information required to successfully exploit a resource. One stable strategy that may be particularly useful is a win-stay-lose-shift strategy, in which an individual continues to perform a behavior that has proven fruitful in the recent past or otherwise shifts to a new behavior. Here we investigate whether domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) use a win-stay-lose-shift strategy utilizing data from 326 puppies and 323 adult dogs on a repeated object-choice task. We found a significant effect of previous-trial success on dogs’ subsequent search patterns. Specifically, dogs were more likely to shift search locations if they were unsuccessful on the previous trial. These findings suggest that puppies and adult dogs win-stay-lose-shift.

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