Metacognition in canids: a comparison of dogs (Canis familiaris) and dingoes (Canis dingo).
Metacognition refers to the ability to monitor one's own mental states. In the current study, we investigate whether domesticated dogs (Canis familiaris) and nondomesticated dingoes (Canis dingo) demonstrate metacognition by seeking information to remedy their own ignorance. In 2 studies, we used a naturalistic information-seeking paradigm in which subjects observed a human experimenter hiding a food reward behind an apparatus. Subjects could seek information by looking through a central window-like section of the apparatus to see where the reward was hidden. In Study 1, we tested whether dogs and dingoes were willing to seek information when interacting with the apparatus, finding that both species readily sought information when it was available to them. Study 2 provided a direct test of whether dogs and dingoes would seek information to rectify their own ignorance. We found evidence that both dogs and dingoes sought out information and were more likely do so when they did not already know where the treat was hidden. These results provide additional evidence suggesting that domesticated dogs seek information in the face of ignorance, as well as the first evidence of similar behavior in a nondomesticated canid.