Cognition and Olfaction of Dogs

A special issue of Animals (ISSN 2076-2615). This special issue belongs to the section "Companion Animals".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2021) | Viewed by 44343

Special Issue Editor


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Guest Editor
Department of Molecular Biomedical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, North Carolina State University, 1060 William Moore Drive, Raleigh, NC 27607, USA
Interests: cognition; olfaction; military working dogs

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue focuses on the broad topic of how dogs think, perceive their environment, solve problems, and make decisions. Manuscripts related to all aspects of canine cognition including sensory cognition, physical cognition, spatial cognition, and self-awareness are sought. Olfaction is a very important mechanism for environmental perception, and the dog olfactory system is several log orders of magnitude superior to that of humans. Humans have taken advantage of this enhanced olfactory ability of dogs for thousands of years. In modern times, dogs have been used to detect drugs, explosives, cancer, vegetables, other animals, and numerous other scents. Therefore, original manuscripts related to any aspect of canine olfaction, including nasal anatomy and airflow, behavioral assessment of olfaction, training aids for scent work, nasal pathology, handler effects, and related topics are also welcomed. In addition, studies evaluating social cognition including evaluation of the human–animal bond are also of interest.

Dr. David C. Dorman
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • canine
  • olfaction
  • cognition
  • metacognition
  • smell
  • olfaction disorders
  • behavior
  • human–animal bond

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

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18 pages, 2247 KiB  
Article
Effect of Sex and Reproductive Status on Inhibitory Control and Social Cognition in the Domestic Dog (Canis familiaris)
by Saara Junttila, Salla Huohvanainen and Katriina Tiira
Animals 2021, 11(8), 2448; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11082448 - 20 Aug 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 13277
Abstract
Sex differences in a variety of cognitive traits have long been reported in various species, including dogs. However, only a few canine studies have taken the possible effect of reproductive hormones into account. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects [...] Read more.
Sex differences in a variety of cognitive traits have long been reported in various species, including dogs. However, only a few canine studies have taken the possible effect of reproductive hormones into account. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of sex and reproductive status of pet dogs (N = 1032) on two cognitive traits: inhibitory control and social cognition. Inhibitory control was assessed using the cylinder test, and the dogs’ tendency to initiate social contact with a human during a problem-solving situation was assessed using the unsolvable task. Female dogs had a significantly higher success rate in the cylinder test compared to males, and they spent significantly more time in human-directed behavior during the unsolvable task. In contrast, males spent significantly more time in independent behavior during the unsolvable task. Reproductive status had no significant effect on the results of the cylinder test or the unsolvable task. Our results showed that female dogs asked for more help/used a more cooperative strategy during a problem-solving situation and had greater inhibitory control compared to males. According to our results, it seems likely that these sex differences were not influenced to a large extent by reproductive hormones. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cognition and Olfaction of Dogs)
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11 pages, 268 KiB  
Article
Training with Multiple Structurally Related Odorants Fails to Improve Generalization of Ammonium Nitrate Detection in Domesticated Dogs (Canis familiaris)
by David C. Dorman, Melanie L. Foster and Lucia Lazarowski
Animals 2021, 11(1), 213; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11010213 - 16 Jan 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2356
Abstract
A critical aspect of canine scent detection involves the animal’s ability to respond to odors based on prior odor training. In the current study, dogs (n = 12) were initially trained on an olfactory simple discrimination task using vanillin as the target [...] Read more.
A critical aspect of canine scent detection involves the animal’s ability to respond to odors based on prior odor training. In the current study, dogs (n = 12) were initially trained on an olfactory simple discrimination task using vanillin as the target odorant. Based on their performance on this task, dogs were assigned to experimental groups. Dogs in group 1 and 2 (n = 5 dogs/group; 1 dog/group were removed due to low motivation or high error rates) were trained with either two or six forms of ammonium nitrate (AN), respectively. Dogs were then assessed with a mock explosive with AN and powdered aluminum. Dogs in both groups failed to respond to the novel AN-aluminum odor. Mean success rates were 56 ± 5 and 54 ± 4% for groups 1 and 2, respectively. Overall, and individual dog performance was not statistically higher than chance indicating that dogs did not generalize from AN to a similar AN-based odorant at reliable levels desired for explosive detection dogs. These results suggest the use of authentic explosive materials, without the added complication of including category-learning methods, likely remains a cost-effective and efficient way to train explosive scent detection dogs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cognition and Olfaction of Dogs)
12 pages, 1404 KiB  
Article
Odour-Evoked Memory in Dogs: Do Odours Help to Retrieve Memories of Food Location?
by Angelo Quaranta, Serenella d’Ingeo and Marcello Siniscalchi
Animals 2020, 10(8), 1249; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10081249 - 23 Jul 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 5059
Abstract
The ability of odors to spontaneously trigger specific memories has been widely demonstrated in humans. Although increasing evidence support the role of olfaction on dogs’ emotions and cognitive processes, very little research has been conducted on its relationship with memory in this species. [...] Read more.
The ability of odors to spontaneously trigger specific memories has been widely demonstrated in humans. Although increasing evidence support the role of olfaction on dogs’ emotions and cognitive processes, very little research has been conducted on its relationship with memory in this species. The present study aimed at investigating the role of olfaction in the recall of detailed memories originally formed in the presence of a specific odor (i.e., vanilla). To test this, three groups of participants were trained with the same spatial learning task while a specific odor (i.e., vanilla) was dispersed in the testing room. Subjects were then divided in three experimental groups and after 24 h delay, they were presented with the same spatial task. The first group (Group 1) performed the task in the presence of a novel odor (i.e., control), whereas the second (Group 2) and the third group (Group 3) carried out the test in the presence of the vanilla odor and no odor (Group 3), respectively. After a brief delay, the test was presented again to the three groups of dogs: subjects of Group 1 were now tested in the presence of the vanilla odor, whereas the Group 2 was tested with the control odor. The Group 3 received no odor in both tests. A significant improvement of dogs’ performance was registered in the control-vanilla odors condition (Group 1), suggesting that the exposure to the odor presented at the encoding time would prompt the recall of spatial memories in dogs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cognition and Olfaction of Dogs)
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10 pages, 638 KiB  
Article
Weber’s Law and the Scalar Property of Timing: A Test of Canine Timing
by Jessica H. Cliff, Surrey M. K. Jackson, James S. McEwan and Lewis A. Bizo
Animals 2019, 9(10), 801; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9100801 - 14 Oct 2019
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 3118
Abstract
Domestic dogs completed a temporal bisection procedure that required a response to one lever following a light stimulus of short duration and to another lever following a light stimulus of a longer duration. The short and long durations across the four conditions were [...] Read more.
Domestic dogs completed a temporal bisection procedure that required a response to one lever following a light stimulus of short duration and to another lever following a light stimulus of a longer duration. The short and long durations across the four conditions were (0.5–2.0 s, 1.0–4.0 s, 2.0–8.0 s, and 4.0–16.0 s). Durations that were intermediate, the training durations, and the training durations, were presented during generalization tests. The dogs bisected the intervals near the geometric mean of the short and long-stimulus pair. Weber fractions were not constant when plotted as a function of time: A U-shaped function described them. These results replicate the findings of previous research reporting points of subjective equality falling close to the geometric mean and also confirm recent reports of systematic departures from Weber’s law. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cognition and Olfaction of Dogs)
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11 pages, 1053 KiB  
Article
A Randomized Cross-Over Trial Comparing the Effect of Intramuscular Versus Intranasal Naloxone Reversal of Intravenous Fentanyl on Odor Detection in Working Dogs
by Jennifer L. Essler, Paige G. Smith, Danielle Berger, Elizabeth Gregorio, M. Ross Pennington, Amanda McGuire, Kenneth G. Furton and Cynthia M. Otto
Animals 2019, 9(6), 385; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9060385 - 22 Jun 2019
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 8084
Abstract
Fentanyl is a potent opioid used clinically as a pain medication and anesthetic but has recently seen a sharp rise as an illicit street drug. The potency of fentanyl means mucous membrane exposure to a small amount of the drug can expose first [...] Read more.
Fentanyl is a potent opioid used clinically as a pain medication and anesthetic but has recently seen a sharp rise as an illicit street drug. The potency of fentanyl means mucous membrane exposure to a small amount of the drug can expose first responders, including working canines, to accidental overdose. Naloxone, a fast-acting opioid antagonist administered intranasally (IN) or intramuscularly (IM) is currently carried by emergency personnel in the case of accidental exposure in both humans and canines. Despite the fact that law enforcement relies heavily on the olfactory abilities of canine officers, the effects of fentanyl exposure and subsequent reversal by naloxone on the olfactory performance of canines are unknown. In a block-randomized, crossover trial, we tested the effects of IN and IM naloxone on the abilities of working dogs to recognize the odor of Universal Detection Calibrant (UDC) prior to, and two, 24, and 48 h after intravenous fentanyl sedation and naloxone reversal. No detectable influence of fentanyl sedation and naloxone reversal on the dogs’ olfactory abilities was detected. We also found no difference in olfactory abilities when dogs received IN or IM naloxone. Together, results suggest no evidence that exposure to intravenous fentanyl followed by naloxone reversal impairs canine olfactory ability under these conditions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cognition and Olfaction of Dogs)
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Review

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12 pages, 978 KiB  
Review
Olfactory Generalization in Detector Dogs
by Ariella Y. Moser, Lewis Bizo and Wendy Y. Brown
Animals 2019, 9(9), 702; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9090702 - 19 Sep 2019
Cited by 38 | Viewed by 10218
Abstract
Generalizing to target odor variations while retaining specificity against non-targets is crucial to the success of detector dogs under working conditions. As such, the importance of generalization should be considered in the formulation of effective training strategies. Research investigating olfactory generalization from pure [...] Read more.
Generalizing to target odor variations while retaining specificity against non-targets is crucial to the success of detector dogs under working conditions. As such, the importance of generalization should be considered in the formulation of effective training strategies. Research investigating olfactory generalization from pure singular compounds to more complex odor mixtures helps to elucidate animals’ olfactory generalization tendencies and inform ways to alter the generalization gradient by broadening or narrowing the range of stimuli to which dogs will respond. Olfactory generalization depends upon both intrinsic factors of the odors, such as concentration, as well as behavioral and cognitive factors related to training and previous experience. Based on the current research, some training factors may influence generalization. For example, using multiple target exemplars appears to be the most effective way to promote elemental processing and broaden the generalization gradient, whereas increasing the number of training instances with fewer exemplars can narrow the gradient, thereby increasing discrimination. Overall, this research area requires further attention and study to increase our understanding of olfactory generalization in dogs, particularly detector dogs, to improve training and detection outcomes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cognition and Olfaction of Dogs)
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