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Walkies! Do dogs have social intelligence?

Tuesday 31 January 2017

Dog-lovers are helping to shed light on how much our pets understand us.

Researchers at the University of Salford want to learn more about what our dogs are thinking, and what they think about us! And they are seeking the public’s help to keep tabs of their dog’s behaviour around the house.

“We know that dogs feel part of the group, but how do they think they fit in to the human family and how do they understand us?” asks Hannah Worsley, a PhD student in the University’s School of Environment and Life Sciences.

To help answer these questions, Hannah is seeking 50 dog-owners to take part in a one-hour trial to record dogs’ reactions to everyday household sayings, like "do you want a treat?", "walkies!", "do you want to go outside?" and "where's your toy?" 

Animal welfare

The researchers believe the study, which looks at a dog’s ability to recognise cause and effect and to understand relationships, is one of the first of its kind conducted in the dog’s natural environment – the family home.

And they say the findings could help animal welfare, if it were to provide more evidence that dogs feel part of the family.

“Dogs don’t live with dogs anymore; they live with humans, who have become their ‘group’, explained Hannah. “The more dogs are seen as part of the group and not simply as pets, the stronger those family ties become.”

If you would like to volunteer for the study, you need to have lived with your dog for a minimum of 5 months, live in the North Manchester area and welcome a researcher to your home.

To get in touch with the research team, contact Hannah Worsley on