This study aims to examine the extent to which attention, specifically through eye contact, is important for obedience to these commands in regular pet dogs. Specifically, does being distracted, such as by texting on a mobile phone, influence dogs’ obedience when they’re told to sit or lie down?
Dogs have become closely associated with humans through domestication, allowing them to develop an impressive sensitivity to human communicative signals. In human-dog communication, a handler gives a cue (e.g. a command to “sit”) to which their dog responds (e.g. by sitting down). However, how well dogs can follow our cues depends on different factors. When humans speak to each other, eye contact indicates that we are paying attention to them. Similarly, when humans speak to dogs, whether we are looking at them may influence a dog’s perception of our speech and whether the dog decides to perform the command.
Do you have a dog? Would you like to participate in this study? Fill out the following form to participate!
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This study has been approved by the Sussex Research Ethics Committee (ARG18/05)