In a recent study in the journal Animal Behaviour, Heberlein and Turner found that dogs were more likely to search for food after observing another dog foraging if they smelled food on the other dog’s breath. After the first dog searched for food, the two dogs made snout-to-snout contact. If the first dog had successfully found food, then the second dog was more willing to seek food from the experimental set up.
The ability to find food based on what other members of the social group have located is common in many species, including insects, birds and mammals. It is no surprise that dogs, being such a highly social species, rely at least partially on other dogs to help them locate food. And it makes sense that since dog breath is so strong, that it is also useful.
Karen B. London, PhD, is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Professional Dog Trainer whose clinical work over the last 17 years has focused on the evaluation and treatment of serious behavioral problems in dogs, especially aggression. Karen has been writing the behavior column for The Bark since 2012 and wrote The Bark’s training column and various other articles for eight years before that. She is an adjunct professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Northern Arizona University, and teaches a tropical field biology course in Costa Rica. Karen writes an animal column, The London Zoo, which appear in The Arizona Daily Sun and is the author of five books on canine training and behavior. She is working on her next book, which she expects to be published in 2017.