Is Your Dog Friendly and What Kind of Dog is That? Perception of Dog Body Posture and the Influence of Breed Stereotypes and Experience with Dogs

Manuel, Cassidy, J.L. (2020) Is Your Dog Friendly and What Kind of Dog is That? Perception of Dog Body Posture and the Influence of Breed Stereotypes and Experience with Dogs. Bachelor's thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

Dogs use both their body language and facial expressions to show how they are feeling. Individuals’ (age range 19-71 years old) ability to correctly interpret a dog’s emotional state through its body posture without facial expressions present was investigated using two different dog breeds (German Shepherd vs Collie) and four different postures (playful, fearful, relaxed, and aggressive). The hypothesis that people could accurately read dogs’ body posture was supported, since 49% of participants received a score of 3 (correct 75% of the time) or higher. It was also predicted that when people are unsure of the posture, the dog breed will influence their interpretation. This hypothesis was not supported since there was no difference in body posture interpretations of the two breeds. Therefore, stereotypes of the dog breed did not influence interpretations of the playful, relaxed, and fearful body posture. Participants correctly labelled the aggressive body posture of the Collie more accurately compared to the German Shepherd, which was opposite of what was predicted. The aggressive body posture had the lowest confidence rating, and it was the posture participants got incorrect the most. Experience with dogs also did not influence how participants interpreted the four body postures. The results indicated that people could read dog body language regardless of their knowledge or exposure to dogs. When they are unsure of certain emotions (such as aggression), participants do not rely on the stereotypes of dog breeds to decide. Past literature has shown participants interpretations of facial expressions alone or combined with body postures and it is unclear if or how well people can interpret dog emotions by body posture alone.

Item Type: Thesis (Bachelor's)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/15112
Item ID: 15112
Additional Information: “Includes bibliographical references (pages 31-34)”
Department(s): Grenfell Campus > School of Arts and Social Science > Psychology
Date: May 2020
Date Type: Submission

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