Mastellone, V., Scandurra, A., D’Aniello, B. et al. 2020. Long-term socialization with humans affects human-directed behavior in goats. Animals 10(4), 578.
Throughout their evolutionary history, humans have tried to domesticate a variety of wild terrestrial mammals, resulting in a limited number that has been successfully domesticated. Among these domesticated species, domestic goats (Capra aegagrus hircus) are a useful model species to study the effects of ontogenesis on the socio-cognitive abilities of domestic non-companion animals in their interactions with humans. To this end, the behavioral responses of two groups of goats with a different background of human socialization (high and low socialization) were compared in the impossible task test, an experimental paradigm aimed to study socio-cognitive skills and the tendency to interact with humans. Our results show that, when the task became impossible to solve, goats with a higher level of socialization interacted with the experimenter for a greater amount of time than subjects in the low socialization group, whereas the latter group exhibited increased door directed behavior. Overall, highly socialized goats made more social contact with humans compared to the other group in the impossible task paradigm.