Do dogs mind the dots? Investigating domestic dogs' (Canis familiaris) preferential looking at human-shaped point-light figures

Joni Delanoeije, Linda Gerencsér, Ádám Miklósi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

It is generally assumed that dogs show increased attention towards humans. A major part of this includes attention towards visual cues such as bodily gestures. We tested empirically whether dogs are visually attentive towards human body movement. Based on methods from visual perception research in humans, we used point-light figures (PLFs) to investigate whether dogs attend to human body movement compared to other forms of motion. We investigated dogs' attentiveness towards vocalisation-paired PLFs by adopting a preferential looking paradigm. Results indicate that dogs show increased attention towards vocalisation-paired human-shaped PLFs in comparison with inverted and non-inverted scrambled configurations of the same PLFs. This increased attention, however, was only present in the case of PLFs that simulated a human in frontal orientation but not for PLFs in lateral orientation. We conclude that dogs prefer to look at PLFs of socially relevant (i.e. frontally facing) human body (i.e. natural) movement rather than scrambled (i.e. unnatural) displays. Our results indicate that PLFs may function as a promising tool to investigate dogs' visual perceptual preferences and mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)637-650
Number of pages14
JournalEthology
Volume126
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2020

Keywords

  • artificial stimuli
  • audiovisual priming
  • dog–human interaction
  • point-light stimuli

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology

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