Dogs (Canis familiaris) Gaze at Our Hands: A Preliminary Eye-Tracker Experiment on Selective Attention in Dogs
School of Veterinary Medicine, Kitasato University, CityTowada, Aomori 034-8628, Japan
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 28 March 2020 / Revised: 20 April 2020 / Accepted: 20 April 2020 / Published: 26 April 2020
Dogs seem to communicate with humans successfully by getting social information from body signals such as hand signs. However, less is known regarding how dogs pay attention visually toward human body signals including hand signs. The objective of this pilot study was to reveal dogs’ social visual attention tuned to inter-species communication with humans by comparing gazing patterns to the whole body of human, dogs, and cats. The pictures showing humans with or without hand signs, dogs, and cats were presented on a liquid crystal display monitor, and gazing behaviors of subject dogs to these pictures were recorded by an eye-tracking device. The subjects gazed at human limns more frequently than limbs within conspecifics and cat images, where the dogs attention were focused on the head and body. Furthermore, gaze toward hands was greater in the human hand sign photos relative to photos where human hand signs were not present. These results indicate that dogs have an attentional style specialized for human non-verbal communication, with an emphasis placed on human hand gestures.