London: Scientists have created a virtual pooch that may be used as an educational tool to help prevent dog bites.
The proof of concept virtual reality (VR) experience lets people approach and interact with a dog displaying signs of aggression in a safe and controlled way.
It teaches adults and children to recognise specific behaviours displayed by dogs, which could potentially lead to an attack or incident if not correctly identified.
Researchers from University of Liverpool in the UK wanted to explore whether a digital tool could help people identify a range of stress and threat behaviours typically exhibited by dogs, which have the potential to lead to a bite.
They made certain that the body language and detail shown in the virtual environment was both realistic and a truthful reflection of real-world canine behaviour.
As the user approaches the dog, the behaviour and body language of the dog gradually changes, the dog’s behaviour begins to display signs of aggression including licking its lips, lowering of the head and body, front paw lifting, growling, and showing of teeth.
These behaviours are referenced from the ‘Canine Ladder of Aggression’ which shows how a dog may behave when it does not want to be approached.
“The next steps will look to enhance the detail within the immersive environment to ensure the simulation is as realistic as possible. Future developments will also show a wider range of dog behaviours and the dog’s reactions to user behaviour,” said Iain Cant, from from University of Liverpool.
“More broadly the project highlights how immersive experiences can be used by organisations such as Dogs Trust as a valuable educational tool,” said Cant.