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Acta Comportamentalia

versão impressa ISSN 0188-8145


DAHAS, Liane Jorge de Souza; NEVES FILHO, Hernando Borges; CUNHA, Talita Regina de Lima  e  RESENDE, Briseida Dôgo de. Social learning in domestic dogs: A review of studies with humans releasing cues. Acta comport. [online]. 2013, vol.21, n.4, pp. 509-522. ISSN 0188-8145.

Communicative behavior with human interlocutor has been designated as essential to the adaptation of domestic dogs in their environments. The ability to follow human pointing in choice tasks is an example of social behavior that involves communication between dogs and humans, and is increasingly reported in the literature as a consistent phenomenon. Human beings are a relevant part of dog's social environment, a fact that is clearly explained by the evolutionary history of domestication. This study had the goal to bring together studies that analyzed dogs' ability to respond to cues given through explicit pointing by humans, stimulating a debate between Ethology and the Experimental Analysis of Behavior and presenting possibilities of explanatory synthesis. There are two tides in literature, one of which focuses on the processes of the dog's life history as determinants of communicative skills with humans (behavior-analytic approach) and an ethological approach emphasizing the process of canine domestication as independent variable. The ethological view is predominant in explaining the phenomenon mentioned above. Three articles were found that use a synthetic explanation of phylo and ontogenetic principles previously discussed in the present article, and they converge in arguing that evolution and epigenesis must have acted in order to prepare the domestic dog to respond to human communicative cues. It is concluded that social skills observed in dogs should not be solely attributed to an inherited factor, due to domestication, since learning is strong determinant of behavior; nor only to ontogeny, since conditioning process does not seem to be the only cause of communicative abilities seen in this species. It is also discussed the possible role of epigenesis in facilitating human-dog communication. The design of these experiments could strengthen with an increase of a debate between Ethology and the Experimental Analysis of Behavior.

Palavras-chave : Social skills; communicative behaviors; cues; domestic dogs; phylogenesis; ontogenesis.

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