Mouth-licking by dogs as a response to emotional stimuli

Albuquerque, Natalia, Guo, Kun, Wilkinson, Anna , Resende, Briseida and Mills, Daniel S. (2018) Mouth-licking by dogs as a response to emotional stimuli. Behavioural Processes, 146 . pp. 42-45. ISSN 0376-6357

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Dogs are able to perceptually discriminate emotional displays of conspecifics and heterospecifics and possess the
cognitive prototypes for emotional categorisation, however, it remains unclear whether dogs can respond appropriately
to this information. One way to assess associations between specific behaviours and the perception of
emotionally competent stimuli is to look at other reliable measures that are related to cognitive and physiological
processing. Using a cross-modal preferential looking paradigm (Albuquerque et al., 2016), we presented
dogs with pairs of facial expressions (positive and negative) combined with an emotionally charged vocalisation
(positive or negative) or a control sound (neutral) and coded their mouth-licking behaviour. We found an effect
of the valence of the face image dogs were seeing on the onset of the mouth-licking, with higher frequencies of
this behaviour in response to the negative faces compared to images with positive valence. However, neither the
sound being played nor the interaction between image valence and sound affected the behaviour. We also found
an effect of species with mouth-licking occurring more often towards human stimuli. This spontaneous differential
behavioural response, combined with previous evidence of cognitive emotional processing in these animals,
suggests that dogs may have a functional understanding of emotional expressions.

Keywords:Dog, Emotion, Ethology
Subjects:D Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects > D300 Animal Science
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
ID Code:29607
Deposited On:14 Nov 2017 20:49

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