Study identifies 7 dog behaviours that could aid development of robotic pets

A new international study including researchers from Western Sydney University has looked at the specific dog behaviours that dog owners perceive as important for establishing a bond with their pet, progressing towards creating robots that interact purposefully with humans.

Published in PLOS ONE, the new research looks at the possibility of creating dog like robots given the known benefits that exist for human and dog bonds identifying 7 dog behaviours that could aid the development of robotic pets.

To better understand the specific behaviours that lead to positive human-dog relationships, the study surveyed 153 dog owners. Through open-ended questions, dog owners were prompted to express which dog behaviours they felt were most conducive to creating a happy bond.

Senior author Professor Emily Cross, from Western Sydney University’s MARCS Institute for Brain, Behaviour and Development, said understanding the human and dog bond is beneficial in creating robotic dogs that will have the same benefits as real dogs, highlighting developing such robots has proven challenging to date.

“We know that human and pet connections have great benefits, knowing what qualities lead to these positive outcomes could help with the development of robots that can also portray these qualities,” said Professor Cross.

“Understanding the reasons why humans find four-legged friends to be so loveable is pivotal in creating pet-like technologies that replicate the real thing leading to better mental and emotional health outcomes within certain groups.”

The 7 categories of behaviours that pet owners found most important were:

  • Attunement
  • Communication
  • Consistency and predictability
  • Physical affection
  • Positivity and enthusiasm
  • Proximity

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