Vol 9, Issue 3, August 2022

Reward Type Affects Dogs' Performance in the Cylinder Task


Krichbaum, S., & Lazarowski, L. (2022). Reward type affects dogs’ performance in the cylinder task. Animal Behavior and Cognition, 9(3), 287-297.  https://doi.org/10.26451/abc.


The cylinder task, which requires detouring around an obstacle to retrieve a reward, is a popular method for assessing inhibitory control in dogs and other species. However, performance on the cylinder task has poor construct validity represented by its lack of correlations with other inhibitory control measures, ceiling effects, and influence of non-cognitive factors. In the current study we examined whether reward type affected dogs’ performance in the cylinder task. We compared working-line Labrador retrievers' (n = 38) performance on two conditions of the cylinder task, one with a treat and another with a ball reward, and found that dogs performed significantly better when a treat was used. Our secondary goal was to determine if how we defined a dog’s response changed interpretation of the results. We found better performance when a narrower definition of an inhibitory control failure was used. Further, under one condition of reward type and response definition, cylinder task performance was predicted by another measure of inhibitory control (Dog Impulsivity Assessment Scale scores). These findings are the first to show the effect of reward type on cylinder task performance as well as a relationship between the cylinder task and another measure of inhibitory control in dogs. We discuss these results in relation to previous findings on the effects of task features on cylinder task performance and its construct validity.


Cylinder task, Detour task, Dog, Reward type