Sunday, July 8, 2018

Does your dog speak to you?

Most dog owners know that their pets "tell" them about their needs.  I want a drink or some food, go for a walk and so on.
 Now two researchers from Salford University have been receiving lots of media attention from all over the world, having published the results of a study which showed that there is a distinct dog "language" .  Sean O'Hara and Hannah Worsley 1 conducted research with 37 owners and their animals where they video recorded hours of footage which on analysis showed clearly that dogs communicate with their owners  through  behavior  and signs which have a specific meaning and are intended to get a particular  response. Many reporters have interpreted this as a kind of sign language.

Sean and Hannah visited London recently to be interviewed by Sarah Vine, a Mail columnist who wrote quite a long piece on the subject.
Hannah Worsley (left) and Sean O'Hara (right) say they have worked out exactly how dogs speak

Admittedly most of the piece was about Sarah Vine and her own dogs, but interesting nonetheless.

The Salford research was carried out in the North West of England and it would be interesting to know if the same results would be found in other parts of the country.
The North East , for instance.  We all know that folk on Tyneside speak English which is unintelligible to people from elsewhere. What about their dogs? Does a Newcastle whippet understand Geordie and respond with two fingers instead of a paw? Then down in the West Country there is a different English again.  Further research is required..

And its a pity about Brexit.  It would have been a further area of research to discover what kind of Gallic gestures those French poodles use when asking for the garlic bread.

1 Worsley, HK & O'Hara, SJ (2018) Cross-species referential signalling events in domestic dogs (Canis familiaris). Animal Cognition, 21(4): 457-465.