As if we need more reasons to love our pups!
Experts at Newcastle University, UK, are using movement sensors to track normal dog behavior both home alone and out-and-about. What they’ve found out about the secret life of man’s best friend allows them to monitor a dog’s behavior for use as an early warning sign that an owner is struggling to cope or their health is deteriorating.
Researcher Nils Hammerla says: “A dog’s physical and emotional dependence on their owner means that their well-being is likely reflect that of their owner and any changes such as the dog being walked less often, perhaps not being fed regularly, or simply demonstrating ‘unhappy’ behavior could be an early indicator for families that an older relative needs help.”
By mapping the normal behavior of a healthy, happy dog, like how much he is barking, sitting, digging and other key canine behaviours, Dr. Cas Ladha, Hammerla, and Emma Hughes were able to set a benchmark against which the pets could be remotely monitored. Then, any changes in behavior, like indications of illness or boredom, could be quickly spotted.
The implications are great for aging adults who want to continue to live on their own. Dr. Ladha says, “developing a system that reassures family and carers that an older relative is well without intruding on that individual’s privacy is difficult. This is just the first step but the idea behind this research is that it would allow us to discretely support people without the need for cameras.”
Hammerla says, “It’s already well known that pets are good for our health and this new technology means dogs are supporting their older owners to live independently in even more ways than they already do.”