Dog owners encouraged to sign their pets up for interaction study

by Leanne Thompson on November 20, 2013

Blind and disabled people often benefit from the assistance of dogs, as these intelligent animals can be trained to boost levels of freedom, mobility and independence.

Now, scientists are hoping to find new ways for dogs to help people in need – as well as police forces and military personnel – by organising a study at the Dog Cognition Centre, which is based in Durham. The unique laboratory is designed with state-of-the-art equipment that can be used to find out how dogs interact with humans, other animals and their environments.

Pet owners are being asked to take their dogs to the Dog Cognition Centre as a way of understanding their furry companions that little bit better. Findings could have a positive impact on many people’s lives.

Scientists working at the University of Portsmouth’s department of psychology will carry out tests. Some of the main topics of investigation will include human-dog communication and animal facial expressions.

Dr Juliane Kaminsk is the head of the centre and boasts over a decade of dog cognition studying experience. She said:

“The minds of dogs are complex, but more research is needed to identify what mechanisms are controlling their behaviour.”

Although dogs have been the playmates of humans for over 15,000 years, their behaviour has only been studied with such a level of detail recently. Dogs will be rewarded with toys and food during testing. Animals of all breeds, ages and genders can participate in the forthcoming test.

Pet owners can sign their dog up for the interaction study by visiting the website at www.port.ac.uk/dogcognition.

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