Date of Award

Spring 2019

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Chair

Hans Stadthagen

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Heidi Lyn

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Donald Sacco

Committee Member 3 School



Domestic canines (Canis familiaris) provide a unique insight into the processes by which species can grow to cooperate efficiently with humans. Few studies have compared whether their behavior is more affected by humans or other canines. This study uses a two-action feeder (an apparatus that can be opened in one of two ways) to look into the methods of social learning they use and compares how they learn from humans vs. other canines. Sixty-four dogs from the Humane Society of varying backgrounds, ages, sexes, and reproductive statuses were tested on their ability to open the two-action feeder and the amount of time they spent interacting with the apparatus. Between-subject comparisons were drawn between three different conditions: no demonstration, and two conditions in which the methods used to open the apparatus were demonstrated, first by a human, and then a canine. Only two dogs accomplished the task, and it could be argued that they opened it accidently; however, social learnings defined as any alteration of behavior as a result of the observation of another individual. There was a significant difference in the length of time they spent interacting with the feeder ([F (2,61) = 3.169, p<.05]), specifically, they spent significantly more time interacting with the apparatus without a demonstration than with a human demonstration, and more with dog demonstration than a human. These results indicate that dogs as a species may not have evolved to learn from humans.