Material & Methods

Introduction phase

The introduction phase aimed at familiarizing the dogs to the room and introducing them to the possibility of finding food in it. The dogs were released in a room with two tunnels, and four buckets containing sausage. The tunnels looked opaque and identical from the outside, except for their colour, one yellow and one blue. Each tunnel contained a screen: one tunnel contained the transparent screen, and the other tunnel contained the opaque screen.

Self-experience phase

The aim of this phase was for the dogs to associate the colour and location of the tunnel with the property of its screen (opaque or transparent). The experimenter showed pieces of sausage, tennis balls, and dry food in front and above each tunnel.

Manipulation check

The aim of this phase was to check if the dogs formed and remembered an association between the colour of the tunnels and the property (opaqueness/transparency) of their screen. The experimenter showed a piece of sausage to the dogs, hunched down, and started chopping it. The only way for the dogs to see what the experimenter was doing, was to approach the tunnel containing the transparent screen.

Test phase

The experimenter and dogs sat opposite from each other. From the dogs perspective, they could see two buckets placed at the end of each tunnel (the same from the introduction phase), the outside of the tunnels, and the experimenters behavior. The experimenter could see inside each tunnel and the bucket behind the tunnel containing the transparent screen.

At the beginning of each test trial, the experimenter caught the dogs attention and held her gaze for ten seconds in the direction of the target object on the other side of the tunnel. After the 10 seconds had elapsed, the experimenter looked down at her timer and gave a verbal signal to the handler that they could release their dog. The test trials were repeated four times, two times to each tunnel.

During the manipulation check, I scored which tunnel the dogs looked through first. During the test trials, I measured the dogs’ looking times to each of the two buckets, which bucket the dogs looked at first, and which bucket the dogs first touched when released.