An Experiment in Animal Welfare Informatics: Effects of Digital Interactive Gameplay on the Psychological Welfare of Home Alone Dogs
The aim of this study is to explore the possible effects of digital interactive gameplay on the psychological welfare of dogs, which are home alone for extended periods of time. We hypothesize that the presence of a digital interactive game positively influences the psychological state of home alone dogs.
The psychological state of the subjects is measured during a period of 10 days, in which the canines are subjected to 5 days of stimulation by the digital interactive game and 5 days during which an unstimulated situation is measured. In order to assess the psychological state of the canine during the test period, salivary cortisol hormone levels were measured twice daily at set times. Furthermore, extensive video data was collected, from which ethograms were constructed and quantified. The quantified ethogram data is complimented by qualitative observations based on the video material. Results are presented and discussed in the context of canine welfare.
This study demonstrates a venture into the possibilities of improving the welfare of canines that live in an environment where they are dependent on human presence. Furthermore this study provides valuable insights that can advance the design of digital artefacts intended for animal use.
Annika Geurtsen, "An Experiment in Animal Welfare Informatics: Effects of Digital Interactive Gameplay on the Psychological Welfare of Home Alone Dogs", Master's Thesis for the Media Technology programme, Leiden University (The Netherlands), 2014