Pet dogs synchronize their walking pace with that of their owners in open outdoor areas

Abstract

Affiliation between interacting partners is associated with a high level of behavioural synchronization in many species. Pet dogs are known to share strong affiliative bonds with their owners and to synchronize their behaviour with them when moving freely indoors. Surprisingly, outdoor dog–human interspecific synchronization has seldom been investigated. We therefore explored whether, when allowed to move freely in a familiar outdoor space, dogs synchronize their behaviour with their owners’ movements. We found that dogs visibly synchronized both their location (staying in close proximity) and their activity (moving when their owner moved, and at the same pace, and standing still when their owner stood still) with those of their owners. By demonstrating that owners act as attractors for their dogs in an outdoor space, the present study contributes new data to the understanding of interspecific behavioural synchronization.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2

References

  1. Ákos Z, Beck R, Nagy M, Vicsek T, Kubinyi E (2014) Leadership and path characteristics during walks are linked to dominance order and individual traits in dogs. PLoS Comput Biol 10(1):e1003446

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  2. Bonanni R, Cafazzo S, Valsecchi P, Natoli E (2010) Effect of affiliative and agonistic relationships on leadership behaviour in free-ranging dogs. Anim Behav 79:981–991

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Charan J, Biswas T (2013) How to calculate sample size for different study designs in medical research? Indian J Psychol Med 35:121–126

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  4. Chartrand TL, Bargh JA (1999) The chameleon effect: the perception–behavior link and social interaction. J Pers Soc Psychol 76(6):893–910

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. Chartrand TL, Lakin JL (2013) The antecedents and consequences of human behavioral mimicry. Ann Rev Psychol 64:285–308

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Chartrand TL, van Baaren R (2009) Human mimicry. Adv Exp Soc Psychol 41:219–274

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Condon WS, Sander LW (1974) Neonate movement is synchronized with adult speech: interactional participation and language acquisition. Science 183(4120):99–101

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. D’Aniello B, Scandurra A (2016) Ontogenetic effects on gazing behavior: a case study of kennel dogs (Labrador retrievers) in the impossible task paradigm. Anim Cogn 19:565–570

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  9. D’Aniello B, Scandurra A, Prato-Previde E, Valsecchi P (2015) Gazing toward humans: a study on water rescue dogs using the impossible task paradigm. Behav Process 110:68–73

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. D’Aniello B, Scandurra A, Alterisio A, Valsecchi P, Prato-Previde E (2016) The importance of gestural communication: a study of human-dog communication using incongruent information. Anim Cogn 19:1231–1235

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  11. Dávid-Barrett T, Dunbar RIM (2012) Cooperation, behavioural synchrony and status in social networks. J Theor Biol 308:88–95

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  12. Duranton C, Gaunet F (2015) Canis sensitivus: affiliation and dogs’ sensitivity to others’ behavior as the basis for synchronization with humans? J Vet Behav Clin Appl Res 10:513–524

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Duranton C, Gaunet F (2016) Behavioural synchronization from an ethological perspective: short overview of its adaptive values. Adapt Behav 24(3):181–191

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Duranton C, Rödel HG, Bedossa T, Belkhir S (2015) Inverse sex effects on performance of domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) in a repeated problem solving task. J Comput Psychol 129:84–87

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Duranton C, Bedossa T, Gaunet F (2016) When facing an unfamiliar person, pet dogs present social referencing based on their owner’s direction of movement alone. Anim Behav 113:147–156

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Duranton C, Bedossa T, Gaunet F (2017a) Do shelter dogs engage in social referencing with their caregiver in an approach paradigm? An exploratory study. Appl Anim Behav Sci 189:57–65

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Duranton C, Bedossa T, Gaunet F (2017b) Interspecific behavioural synchronization: dogs present locomotor synchrony with humans. Sci Rep 7:12384

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  18. Fallani G, Prato Previde E, Valsecchi P (2007) Behavioral and physiological responses of guide dogs to a situation of emotional distress. Physiol Behav 90:648–655

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  19. Ferrari PF, Paukner A, Ionica C, Suomi SJ (2009) Reciprocal face-to-face communication between rhesus macaque mothers and their newborn infants. Curr Biol 19(20):1768–1772

    CAS  Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  20. Gácsi M, Gyori B, Miklósi Á, Virányi Z, Kubinyi E, Topál J, Csányi V (2005) Species-specific differences and similarities in the behavior of hand-raised dog and wolf pups in social situations with humans. Dev Psychol 47(2):111–122

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Gaunet F, Pari-Perrin E, Bernardin G (2014) Description of dogs and owners in outdoor built-up areas and their more-than-human issues. Environ Manag 54(3):383–401

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Guéguen N, Jacob C, Martin A (2009) Mimicry in social interaction: its effect on human judgment and behavior. Eur J Soc Sci 8(2):253–259

    Google Scholar 

  23. Kendon A (1970) Movement coordination in social interaction: some examples described. Acta Psychol 32:100–125

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Kubinyi E, Miklósi Á, Topál J, Csányi V (2003) Social mimetic behaviour and social anticipation in dogs: preliminary results. Anim Cogn 6:57–63

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  25. Lakin JL, Jefferis VE, Cheng CM, Chartrand TL (2003) The chameleon effect as social glue: evidence for the evolutionary significance of nonconscious mimicry. J Nonverb Behav 27:145–162

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Marshall-Pescini S, Passalacqua C, Barnard S, Valsecchi P, Prato-Previde E (2009) Agility and search and rescue training differently affects pet dogs’ behaviour in socio-cognitive task. Behav Process 78:449–454

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Mehrkam LR, Wynne CDL (2014) Behavioral differences among breeds of domestic dogs (Canis lupus familiaris): current status of the science. Appl Anim Behav Sci 155:12–27

    Article  Google Scholar 

  28. Mongillo P, Adamelli S, Pitteri E, Marinelli L (2014) Reciprocal attention of dogs and owners in urban contexts. J Vet Behav 9(4):158–163

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Mongillo P, Pitteri E, Candaten M, Marinelli L (2016) Can attention be taught? Interspecific attention by dogs (Canis familiaris) performing obedience tasks. Appl Anim Behav Sci 182:30–37

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Müller CA, Mayer C, Dörrenberg S, Huber L, Range F (2011) Female but not male dogs respond to a size constancy violation. Biol Lett 7:689–691

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  31. Naderi S, Miklósi Á, Dóka A, Csányi V (2001) Co-operative interactions between blind persons and their dogs. Appl Anim Behav Sci 74:59–80

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Passalacqua C, Marshall-Pescini S, Barnard S, Lakatos G, Valsecchi P, Prato-Previde E (2011) Human-directed gazing behaviour in puppies and adult dogs, Canis lupus familiaris. Anim Behav 82:1043–1050

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Pongrácz P, Miklósi Á, Vida V, Csányi V (2005) The pet dogs ability for learning from a human demonstrator in a detour task is independent from the breed and age. Appl Anim Behav Sci 90:309–323

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Rand DG, Nowak MA (2013) Human cooperation. TICS 17(8):413–425

    Google Scholar 

  35. Richardson MJ, Marsh KL, Isenhower RW, Goodman JRL, Schmidt RC (2007) Rocking together: dynamics of intentional and unintentional interpersonal coordination. Hum Mov Sci 26:867–891

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  36. Richardson DC, Dale R, Shockley K (2008) Synchrony and swing in conversation: coordination, temporal dynamics, and communication. Oxford University Press, Oxford

    Google Scholar 

  37. Scandurra A, Prato-Previde E, Valsecchi P, Aria M, D’Aniello B (2015) Guide dogs as a model for investigating the effect of life experience and training on gazing behavior. Anim Cogn 18:937–944

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  38. Topál J, Miklósi A, Csányi V (1997) Dog-human relationship affects problem solving behavior in dog. Anthrozoös 10:214–224

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Van Ulzen NR, Lamoth CJC, Daffertshoffer A, Semin GR, Beek PJ (2008) Characteristics of instructed and uninstructed interpersonal coordination while walking side-by-side. Neurosci Lett 432:88–893

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  40. Voss K, Galeandro L, Wiestner T, Haessif M, Montavon PM (2010) Relationships of body weight, body size, subject velocity, and vertical ground reaction forces in trotting dogs. Vet Surg 39(7):863–869

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  41. West SA, Griffin AS, Gardner A (2007) Social semantics: altruism, cooperation, mutualism, strong reciprocity and group selection. J Evol Biol 20:415–432

    CAS  Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  42. Wiltermuth SS, Heath C (2009) Synchrony and cooperation. Psychol Sci 20(1):1–5

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

The authors are grateful to Cecile Betremieux for the reliability coding. We also thank the owners who volunteered for the study. This work was funded by the National Association for Research and Technology, the Aide aux Vieux Animaux (AVA) association, the National Centre for Scientific Research, and Aix-Marseille University.

Data availability statement

Data are available on Open Science Framework at the following address: https://osf.io/fvwam/?view_only=26d195c0dff24f29bc811671aba4b218.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Charlotte Duranton.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

As the present study was only observational, all applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed. Also, all procedures were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

All dogs owners signed an informed consent before participating in the study.

Electronic supplementary material

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

Supplementary material 1 (MP4 111454 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Duranton, C., Bedossa, T. & Gaunet, F. Pet dogs synchronize their walking pace with that of their owners in open outdoor areas. Anim Cogn 21, 219–226 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10071-017-1155-x

Download citation

Keywords

  • Dog–human synchronization
  • Location synchrony
  • Activity synchrony
  • Interspecific synchronization
  • Pet dogs