London: Just like humans, dogs prefer sharing food with the familiar partners. However, they are also ready to share food with other animals during complex situations, a new study found.
The study found that dogs exhibit pro-social behaviour and they clearly showed a preference for sharing the food reward with another familiar dog, whereas unfamiliar dogs were rewarded nearly three times less often than the familiar ones.
The higher level of complexity, however, impacted the general frequency of the food delivery, Rachel Dale from the University of Veterinary Medicine – Vienna in Austria, said in a statement.
In addition, the presence of a partner was found to make dogs more likely to share their food.
In the study, the researchers tested whether it made a difference to the donor dog if the receiver was familiar or a stranger.
When a second dog was present in the testing room without being in the other enclosure, the donor dogs were more motivated to give a food reward. When the test dogs were alone in the room, the number of food deliveries went down, the researchers mentioned.
This aspect, known as social facilitation, starts from the assumption that animals will perform more readily in the presence of conspecifics.
The presence of a partner appears to play a greater role. In this case too, the donor dogs preferred familiar partners, the researchers said.
“The difference was smaller, however, than when there was direct visual contact. Social facilitation should, therefore, be considered and controlled more strongly in future studies and in simple experiments,” explained Friederike Range from the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna.