A few notes before beginning

  • Along the way we will ask you to use some different strategies depending on the first letter of your dog's name. For example, dogs who have first names early in the alphabet with do Condition 1 first and then Condition 2 and dogs who have first names later in the alphabet will do Condition 2 first then Condition 1. 

  • When we mention that the warm-ups may take up to 20 minutes we mean the warm-up trials plus all the cup games until Conditions 1 or 2. 

  • We are especially interested in video of Conditions 1, 2, and the Odor control. You do not need to tkae video of the warm-ups or the cup games. 

  • It is very important that you do not try to sway the dog’s behaviors besides what is outlined within this protocol and the videos. Dogs are fantastic at reading human expressions and understanding our attentional states, so we have to be very careful not to give any clues about how to solve the problem or disturb their focused attention. 

  • Throughout the warm-ups and all experimental trials, your dog may become tired, distracted, or otherwise unmotivated (e.g., lying or sitting and/or not approaching or looking at the cups). The following suggestions for regaining their attention are in no particular order.

  • If your dog does not look at you or is distracted…

    • Try using a squeaker or crinkle an empty plastic water bottle to get their attention

    • Try a verbal cue: repeat “your dog’s name”/“puppy look” or whistle

    • Try waving a treat around in front of the dog

  • If the dog doesn't seem to like the reward….

    • Try switching to a different treat for the dog. 

    • Or, if the dog doesn’t seem to be food- or treat-motivated, try using a high reward toy to hide (such as a tennis ball) underneath cups in experimental trials. This may require larger cups.

    • If all else fails, take a break and come back to the study later. Sometimes dogs just need a quick 30 second or 1 minute play break, and you’ll see that we have some built in. If you take a long break (say, longer than an hour), please start with the warm up trials before you go into the experiment to reacquaint your dog with the study.  

  • If your dog does not complete the study that’s ok -- we want to know that too! Please include their data and let us know that they didn’t finish. 

  • At the beginning of each trial we want to make sure that the handler has the dog in a good starting position. The handler should center the dog, and preferably facing toward the experimenter. The dog will often be between the handler’s knees or ankles, but this is not required. While it is preferred that the dog is standing in a straight line between the experimenter and the handler, if the dog is resistant to being moved, it is fine if their back legs are to the side, so long as they are attending to the experimenter. 

  • Mistakes happen, even to well-trained researchers, so it’s perfectly okay if one of the following occurs: 

    • The dog accesses the treat by knocking it over with anything other than their snout or front paw (e.g. back leg, tail, leash).

    • The experimenter forgets to give the cue.

    • Any unanticipated hugely distracting event that appears to interfere with the dog’s ability to pay attention or make a choice: loud noises from outside the room, guardian or experimenter sneezing, etc.

    • Dog is released before the “okay” or before the experimenter has finished hiding the treat or giving the cue.

    • Experimenter forgets where they put the treat and needs to restart the trial so that they can cue correctly.

  • What do you do if you make one of these mistakes? 

    • In these cases just re-do the trial. It’s no big deal. 

  • If the experimenter puts the treat under the wrong cup (that is, the instructions say it goes on the left but they put it on the right) then just make note of that when you submit your data. You don’t need to re-do the trial, just carry on. 

Current Opportunities

Due to COVID-19 we are not currently running any studies. Check back soon! 

- Numerical Reasoning

Dr. Furlong will be teaching a (mostly) asynchronous summer course on dog cognition. If you are interested in hearing more, please contact us!- Numerical Reasoning

Interested in Learning more about dog cognition? Check out Dr. Furlong's audiobook! 

Interested in learning more about dogs?

Check out Dr. Furlong's audiobook on dog cognition! - Numerical Reasoning

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Illinois Wesleyan University

Shaw Hall

1312 N. Park St.

Bloomington, IL


E-Mail: dogscience@iwu.edu 
Tel (Info):  (309) 556-3415

Tel (Lab):  (309) 556-3821

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