Behavioural synchronization and social referencing of dogs and humans: walking in dyad vs in group


  • Lamontagne Angélique
  • Legou Thierry
  • Rauchbauer Birgit
  • Grosbras Marie-Hélène
  • Fabre Fannie
  • Gaunet Florence


  • Dog-human interactions
  • Behaviour
  • Interspecific synchronization
  • Social referencing
  • Dyads
  • Groups

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Recent studies have demonstrated that dogs synchronize their locomotor behaviour with that of their owners. The present study aims to improve our understanding of the sensorimotor processes underlying interspecific behavioural synchronization by testing the influence of the number of humans on dogs' behavioural synchronization. We used Global Positioning System (GPS) devices in an outdoor environment to measure dogs' behavioural synchronization to humans during a locomotor activity involving three speeds (static, slow walking and fast walking). For half of the dogs, only their owner was walking, while for the other half, the owner walked with two familiar people. We also tested the effect of dog breeds by involving 30 shepherd dogs and 30 molossoids. Our results showed that dogs exhibited the same level of behavioural synchronization with their owner if alone or if surrounded by two familiar people. Though the presence of a group of humans did not strengthen the dogs' locomotor synchronization, it did produce another effect: dogs gazed at their owners more frequently in the presence of a group compared to their owner alone. This result suggests the same level of locomotor social entrainment but a difference in social referencing depending on the number of humans.

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