Nonverbal Communication and Human–Dog Interaction

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Human–dog interaction relies to a large extent on nonverbal communication, and it is therefore plausible that human sensitivity to nonverbal signals affects interactions between human and dog. Experience with dogs is also likely to influence human–dog interactions, and it has been suggested that it influences human social skills. The present study investigated possible links between human nonverbal sensitivity, experience with dogs, and the quality of human–dog interactions. Two studies are reported. In study 1, 97 veterinary students took a psychometric test assessing human nonverbal sensitivity and answered a questionnaire on their experience with dogs. The data obtained were then used to investigate the relationship between experience with dogs and sensitivity to human nonverbal communication. The results did not indicate that experience with dogs improves human nonverbal sensitivity. In study 2, 16 students with high, and 15 students with low, levels of human nonverbal sensitivity were selected. Each of the 31 students interacted once with an unknown dog in a greeting situation, and these human–dog interactions were videoed. We found that a combined score of dog behaviors relating to insecurity was associated with the students' level of nonverbal sensitivity and experience with dogs: the dog showed more of the insecure behavior when interacting with students with a low level of nonverbal sensitivity and no experience with dogs than it did when interacting with students with a high level of nonverbal sensitivity (irrespective of experience with dogs).
Original languageEnglish
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)553-568
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2014

ID: 128001519