virtual labrador could help researchers tackle dog bites
Credit: University of Liverpool

A virtual reality dog could one day be used as an educational tool to help prevent dog bites, thanks to an innovative project led by researchers at the University of Liverpool.

As part of a new pilot study, veterinary researchers have tested a virtual reality Labrador known as DAVE (Dog Assisted Virtual Environment) to explore if and/or how humans recognize and interpret signs of dog aggression.

Dog bites are a growing public health concern, with previous University of Liverpool research finding that adult hospital admission rates for dog bites tripled in England between 1998–2018. A better understanding of human-dog behavioral interactions could help researchers tackle this growing problem but research using real dogs is fraught with challenges, which is where DAVE comes in.

Dr. Carri Westgarth, a Senior Lecturer in Human-Animal Interaction at the University of Liverpool explains, “Dog bites are a common public health issue affecting human-dog relationships. Studying human behavior around a dog performing aggressive behaviors is ethically difficult, for the sake of the risk to the person but also, we don’t want to be deliberately making dogs unhappy. A virtual dog solves these problems.”

The researchers recruited sixteen adults for a practical pilot study to explore a virtual indoor living room with the virtual reality dog model allocated in the opposite corner of the room. The dog model was based on the popular family-favorite Labrador breed.

The team asked participants if they recognized and understood the signs of aggressive behaviors displayed by the virtual dog, including licking its lips, yawning, front paw lifting, backing away, barking, growling, and showing of teeth. These behaviors are referenced from the “Canine Ladder of Aggression” which shows how a dog may behave when it is uncomfortable and does not want to be approached.

The researchers also assessed participant proximity to the dog using VR head and hand tracking. Participants behaved and interacted with the model in a manner that might be expected with a live dog. However, three participants got close enough to the aggressive virtual dog to get bitten. The study found little evidence of simulator sickness and indicated that the participants perceived the dog as realistic.

Ph.D. student James Oxley said, “This is a novel pilot study which overcomes the challenges associated with assessing human behavior around real dogs displaying aggressive behavior. Our findings highlight the potential that the virtual reality model has to help us better understand human behavior in the presence of dogs and our interpretation of dog behavior.”

The researchers also suggest that the virtual reality dog could be developed for use in other areas of behavioral research, such as educational dog safety lessons and in the treatment of dog phobias.

The model was developed in collaboration with the University’s Virtual Engineering Center (VEC) and supported by Dogs Trust.

Dr. Andy Levers, Executive Director for the Virtual Engineering Center and the Institute of Digital Engineering and Autonomous Systems (IDEAS) said, “The Virtual Engineering Center was delighted to be approached to support this exciting project which we believe can really make a difference. This digital tool enables the user to interact and learn with a realistic virtual dog within a safe and controlled sandpit environment.”

Paula Boyden, Dogs Trust Veterinary Director, said, “We were delighted to fund the University of Liverpool DAVE Pilot, its potential to provide a fascinating insight into human-canine interactions is clear. We hope that DAVE will be developed into an education tool to teach people how to be safe around dogs. Before a bite occurs, a dog will often display subtle behaviors to indicate that it is uncomfortable and does not want to be approached. By educating people about these behaviors, we hope that incidences of dog bites can be significantly reduced.”

The study is published in the journal PLOS ONE. More information: James A. Oxley et al, A pilot study investigating human behaviour towards DAVE (Dog Assisted Virtual Environment) and interpretation of non-reactive and aggressive behaviours during a virtual reality exploration task, PLOS ONE (2022). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0274329 Journal information: PLoS ONE

Provided by University of Liverpool Citation: Virtual Labrador could help researchers tackle dog bites (2022, September 29) retrieved 29 September 2022 from This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.


Apple: Most iCloud data can now be end-to-end encrypted

As part of an ongoing privacy push, Apple said Wednesday it will now offer full end-to-encryption for nearly all the data its users store in its global cloud-based storage system. That will make it more difficult for hackers, spies and law enforcement agencies to access sensitive user information. The ...

View more: Apple: Most iCloud data can now be end-to-end encrypted

Apple iOS 16.2 RC Update Brings iPhone 5G Connection to India

Apple debuts the new iOS 16.2 Release Candidate (RC) update, which brings new much-awaited features to iPhone users. The RC update offers a 5G connection to iPhone users in the second most populated country in the world, India. It also provides new features to built-in apps like Apple Music. (Photo ...

View more: Apple iOS 16.2 RC Update Brings iPhone 5G Connection to India

5 Free Websites You Can Take Short Online Courses From

If you are looking to expand your knowledge to bulk up your resume or simply looking for a productive way to pass the time, taking online courses might have already crossed your mind. With the increased demand for information accessibility in the Internet Age and the pandemic years, many ...

View more: 5 Free Websites You Can Take Short Online Courses From

Young scientist becomes first Vietnamese awarded by UK Royal Aeronautical Society

Dr. Nguyen Huyen Duc was granted the Young Persons’ Achievement Award 2022 by the UK’s Royal Aeronautical Society. (Source: VietnamPlus) London (VNA) – With the Young Persons’ Achievement Award, Dr. Nguyen Huyen Duc has become the first Vietnamese scientist to receive the prize from the UK’s Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS).Duc is the ...

View more: Young scientist becomes first Vietnamese awarded by UK Royal Aeronautical Society

AIS joins e-waste blockchain initiative

Ms Saichon unveils the blockchain-based E-Waste+ platform. Advanced Info Service Plc (AIS), Thailand's biggest mobile operator by subscriber base, has joined hands with partners to launch an electronic waste blockchain system that allows users to track and trace e-waste through the recycling process and calculate carbon reduction scores. Blockchain-based ...

View more: AIS joins e-waste blockchain initiative

Huawei committed to cultivating digital talent

From left, David Li, chief executive of Huawei Technologies Thailand, Mr Supachai, acting Capt Montree Munkong, advisor to the Digital Economy and Society minister, and Mr Deng at the Thailand Talent Transformation Symposium. Global multinational Huawei Technologies has joined hands with partners in the public and private sectors to ...

View more: Huawei committed to cultivating digital talent

Fans are going nuts over this official Avengers concept art

Avengers: Infinity War is one of the highlights of the MCU, a movie worth revisiting time and again. The film delivers various iconic moments as the Avengers try to stop Thanos (Josh Brolin) from obtaining all six Infinity Stones. As a result, we witness several exciting team-ups as the Avengers ...

View more: Fans are going nuts over this official Avengers concept art

iCloud backups will now be end-to-end encrypted

Apple has just made a couple of significant security announcements. The most noteworthy is that iCloud backups will now be end-to-end encrypted. This is part of a larger security initiatives that Apple is calling Advanced Data Protection which will see the number of data categories being end-to-end encrypted rising ...

View more: iCloud backups will now be end-to-end encrypted

Hong Kong’s Pando Finance launches blockchain-themed ETF to give investors a taste of cryptocurrencies ‘with minimum risk’

How Silicon Valley looks at the Taiwan miracle (9): Ethnic Chinese associations and industry leaders

Elon Musk found a successor to act as Tesla Global CEO

Indian GCCs to add 3.64 million jobs over next 12 months

Scoop: HUL, other FMCG majors in sale talks with nutrition firm Oziva

Exclusive: Swiggy may fire 250 employees in December, more layoffs possible in coming months

Social platforms flag age-gating fears in MeitY’s IT rules meet

Spice Money to offer B2B transactions on ONDC next quarter

iPhone 14’s Emergency SOS via satellite feature may launch in the UK next week

New kilonova has astronomers rethinking what we know about gamma-ray bursts

Tecno MegaBook S1 brings 15.6″ 120Hz display and 12th Gen Core i7

Mars is hiding exciting mysteries beneath its surface 


Top Car News Car News