Co-operative interactions between blind persons and their dogs

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85 Citations (Scopus)


In two studies, we have investigated the co-operative behaviour between dogs and their owners. We supposed that co-operative behaviour is an inherited trait in dogs, and is a major contributing factor in the development of successful guide dog performance. According to our view, leading a blind person involves complex behaviour where success depends on the ability of the participants to synchronise their actions. In Study I, we observed both British and Hungarian blind owners taking a half-hour walk in their neighbourhood. In Study II, both guide dogs with their blind and pet dogs with their blind-folded owners had to master an obstacle course. Measuring the frequency of initiations of various actions during leading their owners, dogs did not keep the role of the initiator to themselves. However, both dogs and humans were found to initiate more often in some types of actions, for example, guide dogs initialised avoidance or stepping up more often than their owners. Further, the role of the initiator was kept only for short durations, longer sequences of initialising were rare. Despite many differences among groups studied, we observed some qualitative Similarities in the co-operative behaviour of dogs. We assume that during domestication, dogs have been selected for the ability to change to-and-fro the role of the initiator that seems to be fundamental in this type of co-operation. In the case of leading the blind, information should not only be provided but also accepted by both parties in the course of the joint actions, therefore, the leadership (the role of the initiator) may vary form one action to the next.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-80
Number of pages22
JournalApplied Animal Behaviour Science
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Sep 11 2001


  • Co-operation
  • Dog-human interaction
  • Guide dogs for the blind

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Animals
  • Animal Science and Zoology

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