Evaluating and re-evaluating intra- and inter-species social transmission of food preferences in domestic dogs

Armando D. Mendez, Nathaniel J. Hall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Social-transmission of food preference is a robust behavioral phenomenon in rodents and other species, but less work has evaluated this phenomenon in broader taxa and to what degree social-transmission can occur between species. Here we show that over the span of three experiments that consisted of a human-dog, a dog-dog, and a replication study of a dog-dog demonstrator-observer test, we did not observe successful social transmission of food preferences across all three experiments. For our first experiment, we investigated whether pet dogs acquire food preference from their owners using a two-bowl preference test. The results suggested that our dogs did not acquire a preference for the flavor consumed by their owners. This then led us to investigate whether this failure was the result of an inter-species failure, so we replicated the experiment using two familiar dogs as the demonstrator and observer. The results for Experiment Two also suggested that our participant dogs do not acquire food preference from a canine demonstrator. A third experiment attempted a direct replication of the Lupfer-Johnson and Ross (2007) that found dog-dog transmission of food preferences. Our results again indicated that our participant dogs did not acquire food preference from demonstrators. Over the span of three experiments, our results did not show clear canine food preferences for the food consumed by a demonstrator (human or dog).

Original languageEnglish
Article number104471
JournalBehavioural Processes
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • Domestic dog
  • Human-animal interaction
  • Social transmission of food preferences


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