Emotional commitment of wolves and dogs in cognition tests

Heartbeat rates and variability in testsituations

One of the core approaches at the WSC we investigate the mental capacity and the dispositon for cooperation in wolves and dogs (see projects Friederike Range und Zsofia Virányi). A of course we can see performance differences in the tests, between wolves and dogs as well as between the induviduals. Hardly surprising - but do the results in real reflect differences in "intelligence" and cooperative abilities, or rather different committment and interest? Are wolves sometimes "too cool" to achieve good perfomances? And dogs "over-involved"?

One possibility to find it out is measruring of the heartbeatrate of dogs and wolves before and during the tests. This is carried out with the active help of the trainer and PhD-student Kim Kortekaas (also see treadmill-project) and simple measure belts of the firm „Polar“. What's good for joggers may not be wrong for wolves/dogs.

Now - it was not as sipmle as it sounds. For dogs/wolves have a coat, man does not. Therefore we use 70 % alcohol as wetting agent, to ensure the signal-transduction through the fur. And it also was not thus easy to persuade - espescially the dogs - to accept this wetting. Yet measurement errors often occur. To correct this, we had to develop our own procedure.

One handful each of wolves and dogs were measured several time in three different testing situations: during walks at the leash (also see long-term projects), at the touchscreen and during the learning sets. First results will be published in summer 2013.