Dog’s Mood & Behavior an Indicator of Owner’s Health

Total Shares 3.7K

Researchers at Newcastle University have hypothesized that a dog’s mood and behavior could be an indicator of their owner’s health.

The project began when researchers developed a tracking system to monitor dogs’ activity. Using special sensors, the team can remotely monitor a dog’s entire day, from how often he sleeps, to when he sits, barks, eats, digs, plays, and more with a special waterproof collar with a built-in accelerometer designed to monitor 17 distinct dog behaviors.

According to an article in the Science Blog,

By mapping the normal behavior of a healthy, happy dog, Dr Cas Ladha, PhD student Nils Hammerla and undergraduate Emma Hughes were able to set a benchmark against which the animals could be remotely monitored. This allowed for any changes in behavior which might be an indication of illness or boredom to be quickly spotted.

The next step in their research, project lead Ladha, says, is using the dog’s behavior and activity as an indicator, or early warning system, of an elderly owner’s health and well-being.

The team is dedicated to researching and developing systems for helping the elderly live longer, healthier lives. They believe this new method of monitoring their dogs would allow family and caregivers to “discretely support people without the need for cameras,” and without invading their privacy.

The team believes that eventually the elderly will be able to outfit their dogs with the special collar, allowing their behavior to be monitored, to quickly identify changes in either the dog’s health, or the owner’s.

Does your dog behave different when you’re not feeling well, stressed, or down in the dumps? Weigh in with a comment below!

About the project, Hammerla added, “A dog’s physical and emotional dependence on their owner means that their wellbeing is likely reflect that of their owner and any changes such as the dog being walked less often, perhaps not being fed regularly, or simply demonstrating ‘unhappy’ behaviour could be an early indicator for families that an older relative needs help.”

19 COMMENTS

  1. My eldest dog, Lady, is a border collie mix. My mom passed away two months ago and I’ve had a rather complicated grief response to her death. I’ve noticed that Lady has not only been sleeping more, but also having more arthritis pain (just like me). Her behavior appears to mirror my physical and emotional feelings.

  2. Omg 8 was just saying this very same tjing and a collar to be able to tell if your pup is happy, sad I hope you guys are able to one day make this happen it would be amazing

  3. My dog/s are and have been very tuned into my state of mental health and when I’m down they have always been more protective and sit/follow me around in those times. When I’m in good mental health they do their own thing and don’t seem to feel the need to be with me as often, they are still affectionate but not just there all the time. Late last year I had to look after my 92yr old father with dementia while my mother spent quiet a few months in hospital. I had my 12 yr. old westie X Maltese with me. She ended up looking out for him with letting him pet her (often quiet hard due to not realising it) on her head. Talk to her about his day and his concerns which he could not express to me and she went with him everywhere. When my mother came home from hospital still quiet ill, she (the dog) also looked after her and wouldn’t let anyone near her unless mum said it was o.k.. I’ve seen dogs do amazing things that is hard to explain I had another dog who use to tell me when a cyclone was prominent or an earth quake.

  4. I have two poodles. Monty is the serious, concerned one — always watching me to see how I’m doing (I use a rollator to get around). Whenever I begin to fall (whether I catch myself or not) he cries. He also tries to herd me with his nose when I need to walk a little faster.
    Spike is the happy-go-lucky one. His tail is always wagging and he seems to have a smile on his face. He will never grow old!
    Together, they take really good care of me. Favorite time for the 3 of us is while I’m lying in bed — Spike cuddles under my right arm and Monty lies across my legs so I can’t get up.

  5. I have a yorkie, and she knows that i have heart problems i have a defeb in my chest,she will lay down and will not move when it is going to shock me!two weeks ago i took.her for a walk and we got to the corner she layed down and would not move and then it hit me knocking me down! They realy do know whats going on!she is allways by my side,like i am her puppy all the time,she is my heart!

  6. When I was going through chemo 2 years ago, I spent most of my time in my recliner chair. My 2 dogs constantly laid by my side, and even my cats were more attentive. When my friend would come over to take the dogs for a walk, they would be back in 2 minutes. She said that they would get about 2 houses down the street, and Maverick would turn around to go home. He didn’t want to leave me. I

  7. Annette Delgau, what is wrong with your grandchildren? NO EXCUSES!!!!!!!!! Are you kidding me with this throw-away society??? I am sick of these stories and there is no excuse for anyone treating their animals like this. CATS, for God’s sake…so easy to take care of….hope your dog has a better fate.

  8. My German Shepherd alerts to my migraines 2-3 hours before they hit. He is uncharacteristically pushy, and displays what we call “intelligent disobedience” in service dogs. The sensitivity to my headaches is instinct, but I have trained him further so he defies a sit, down, or stay command because warning me about an impending migraine is more important and I might miss the cues if he listened when I told him to go lay down instead. He persists until I can take my medicine and relax, and then he will lay down and stay quiet with me.

  9. Somehow dogs do “smell” pain. They will lick the affected area. But with all our technology, doctors can’t do this. Not that I would want my doctor licking me. Just sayin.

  10. My dogs, particularly Kao Kao is very happy all the time. I must be since I am very active and happy. Heidi my rescue she is most active at night. I notice that at night both dogs are most active since I am a night person. When I have to go to sleep earlier, my dog kao kao will chew on my mattress and would want to play with me. When I sleep he licks my ear. I think he knows that I might have an ear infection. He is very calm around my mom but tries to play with her. I do believe that my dogs behavior is matched by my emotions.

  11. I must be in a good mood because they are very playful and happy. I have 4 dogs. One 12 year old dachshund that is sleeping under my feet. A chiweenie and mutt that play every night between 7 and 8 pm. A border collie that runs the show. I hear the chiweenie barking at somebody now. I love my boys. I couldn’t imagine my life without them. Cheers!

  12. When I have pain I’ve noticed that twinkles will start licking the area where the pain is or bruise. When I am stressed she will stay close to me and give me kisses. Yesterday I had to take my Granddaughter’s cats to a shelter 3hours away. They are siblings and twelve years old. I had a very difficult day, My grand children had to move out of state and couldn’t Take them. Anyway when I got home twinkles stayed by my side and would.t stop giving me kisses. I will share that our no kill shelter has .Parvo viris and couldn’t take them. I do believe that dogs can feel your moods. I don’t know what I WOULD DO Without her and phamtom the cat and tweety my 28 year old bird.

    • Good for you finding a no-kill shelter! I’m sorry they couldn’t take them; I’m sure there is a local rescue they can go to if you cannot keep them. At least they told you about the Parvo virus & didn’t just take them, some would not have sadly enough. I’m sorry you had to do that. Please just don’t take them to your local AC, cats don’t make it out of there too often; especially seniors. Good luck & I’m glad you have your fur kids to help you. I don’t know what I’d do without mine either. :)

  13. When I am sick my dog mellows out and sticks by my side. The dog doesn’t “ask” to go out as much either. When I had surgery, the dog just laid by my side until I got up to let him out or feed him.

LEAVE A REPLY