I have an 8 week old puppy in the house and he’s making writing my blog post this week a little more challenging, so I thought I may as well use him for inspiration.
I’ve noticed that if he can see the training food pieces he doesn’t really care that I have one in my hand. He’s much more interested in the bigger pile. This got me wondering whether or not he can tell the difference between different amounts of food.
Miletto Petrazzini, Mantese, & Prato-Previde (2020) studied this question in 8 week old puppies. They offered the puppies two choices of food piles. One pile had a single piece of food, while the other pile had 4, 6, or 8 pieces depending on the trial. The puppies could distinguish, or at least they typically chose the bigger pile when there were 6 or 8 pieces, but not when there were only 4 pieces. According to the authors this is different than what has been found in older dogs who are able to distinguish between smaller quantities.
This is interesting because it indicates that the puppies either have an innate ability to distinguish between quantities or they develop this ability at a very young age.
Okay, now I have to go back to puppy watching.