PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractIn the community of evolutionary cognition, understanding whether dogs truly comprehend pointing cues has long been a topic of discussion and experimentation. It has long been debated whether dogs understand pointing cues as merely an associative cue or as an act of communication as well as to what extent dogs are able to follow pointing cues. As a part of a much larger study (ManyDogs Project, 2023), I examined the impact attention (as analyzed through gaze) makes on dogs’ decisions. I also explore the association between attentional behavior and pointing cues as well as the extent to which ostensive cues (eye contact and vocal engagement) affect canine behavior during testing. The results of this study suggest that ostensive cues are less important for dogs’ comprehension than previously expected, but gaze may be crucial for capturing dogs’ attention during nonverbal communication.