Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Overimitation in Dogs: Is there a Link to the Quality of the Relationship with the Caregiver?

Version 1 : Received: 17 December 2021 / Approved: 20 December 2021 / Online: 20 December 2021 (10:07:01 CET)

How to cite: Huber, L.; Kubala, D.; Cimarelli, G. Overimitation in Dogs: Is there a Link to the Quality of the Relationship with the Caregiver?. Preprints 2021, 2021120302 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202112.0302.v1). Huber, L.; Kubala, D.; Cimarelli, G. Overimitation in Dogs: Is there a Link to the Quality of the Relationship with the Caregiver?. Preprints 2021, 2021120302 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202112.0302.v1).

Abstract

Overimitation, the copying of causally irrelevant or non-functional actions, is well-known from humans but completely absent in other primates. Recent studies from our lab have provided evidence for overimitation in canines. Previously, we found that half of tested pet dogs copied their human caregiver's irrelevant action, while only few did so when the action was demonstrated by an unfamiliar experimenter. Therefore, we hypothesized that dogs show overimitation as a result of socio-motivational grounds. To test this more specifically, here we investigated how the relationship with the caregiver influenced the eagerness to overimitate. Given the high variability in the tendency to overimitate their caregiver, we hypothesized that not only familiarity, but also relationship quality influences whether dogs faithfully copy their caregiver. For this purpose, we measured on the one hand the overimitation tendency (with the same test as in the two studies before) and on the other hand the relationship quality between the dogs and their caregivers. Although not significant, results revealed that dogs who overimitated seemed to show more referential and affiliative behaviours towards the owner (like gazing, synchronization and greeting) than dogs who showed less or no copying of the irrelevant action. Possible reasons for these findings are discussed.

Keywords

overimitation; dogs; affiliation; relationship; dog-human interaction

Subject

BEHAVIORAL SCIENCES, Cognitive & Experimental Psychology

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