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Effects of anxiety on canine movement in dog-robot interactions

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
JournalAnimal Behavior and Cognition
DateAccepted/In press - 15 Aug 2018

Abstract

Canine behavioral disorders, such as various forms of fear and anxiety, are a major threat for the well-being of dogs and their owners. They are also the main cause for dog abandonment and relinquishment to shelters. Timely diagnosis and treatment of such problems is a complex task, requiring extensive behavioral expertise. Accurate classification of pathological behavior requires information on the dog's reactions to environmental stimuli. Such information is typically self-reported by the animal's owner, posing a threat to its accuracy and correctness. Simple robots have been used in literature as controllable stimuli for evoking particular canine behaviors, leading to the increasing interest in dog-robot interactions (DRIs). We explore the use of DRIs as a tool for the assessment of canine behavioral disorders. More concretely, we ask in what ways disorders such as anxiety may be reflected in the way dogs interact with a robot. To this end, we performed an exploratory study, recording DRIs for a group of 20 dogs, consisting of 10 dogs diagnosed by a behavioral expert veterinarian with deprivation syndrome, a form of phobia/anxiety caused by inadequate development conditions, and 10 healthy control dogs. Pathological dogs moved significantly less than the control group during these interactions.

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