London: Man's best friend may also give vital clues to its master's wellbeing!
Monitoring the mood of a pet dog could provide an early warning sign that an elderly owner is struggling to cope, a new report has claimed.
Researchers at Newcastle University placed movement sensors on dogs to track their behaviour and identified 17 distinct activities, including chewing, barking, sitting and digging.
This allowed them to map the normal behaviour of a healthy, happy dog, which means any changes can be monitored and could indicate an issue with their owner.
The team created a hi-tech, waterproof dog collar complete with accelerometer and collected data for a wide range of dog breeds that gives an indicator of the pet's welfare.
"Humans and dogs have lived together in close proximity for thousands of years, which has led to strong emotional and social mutual bonds," Nils Hammerla, part of the university research team, said.
"A dog's physical and emotional dependence on their owner means that their well-being is likely to reflect that of their owner," said Hammerla.
"Any changes such as the dog being walked less often, perhaps not being fed regularly, or simply demonstrating 'unhappy' behaviour could be an early indicator for families that an older relative needs help.
"This is the first system of its kind which allows us to remotely monitor a dog's behaviour in its natural setting," said Hammerla.
A range of dogs was used for the study, as the team needed to map distinct behaviours that correlate between different breeds.
"This is the first system of its kind which allows us to remotely monitor a dog's behaviour in its natural setting. But beyond this it also presents us with a real opportunity to use man's best friend as a discreet health barometer," Hammerla said.