Anna Zamansky 1, Stephane Bleuer-Elsner 1,2, Sylvia Masson 3, Shir Amir 1, Ofer Magen 1, and Dirk van der Linden 4
1 University of Haifa, Haifa, Israel
2 Private Veterinary Practice, Tel Aviv, Israel
3 Private Veterinary Practice, Voreppe, France
4 University of Bristol, UK
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 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.