A new study has found that people who have trouble controlling their reactions to their dogs can actually be a lot more likely to be more alert to the sounds and sights around them.
Key points: The study found that dogs can be used as a cue to alert people to danger, but the dogs can also alert people of danger in their own homeAs part of the study, researchers used audio recordings of dogs’ natural reactions to sounds and sight to help explain what they had observedDog owners were shown videos of their dog’s natural reactions and asked to rate how alert they felt when a particular sound or sight was triggered.
In the audio recordings, the dogs’ responses were also recorded in real-time, and the results were analysed.
Dog owners rated how alert their dog felt when they heard a specific sound or saw a particular sight, with a 10-point scale ranging from “alert” to “unalert”.
They found that dog owners were generally more alert when their dog was barking, sniffing or chasing than when they were not.
“People are often more aware of the presence of their pets, especially when they have their dogs,” Professor Daniel McLeod said.
“They tend to be aware of other people’s dogs and are more aware that they should keep their dogs in a secure place.”
The researchers then looked at the number of times that each individual dog’s reaction was triggered by a specific noise, sight or smell.
They found that those who had difficulty controlling their dogs were more likely than those who did to be extremely alert, which they termed “dog alert”.
Dr McLeod and colleagues said this was an interesting result, but also one that could be useful for those with dogs who are not accustomed to waking up in the middle of the night to alert other people.
“The more alert a dog is, the less likely it is to be triggered by sound or scent,” he said.
“We’re just now beginning to understand how this works, and how it might work for people who are still learning to be a bit more alert and alert-prone.”
It’s possible that dogs are a useful cue for people to recognise their own vigilance.
“The study was published in the Journal of Animal Science.