Simulating animal behaviour to support bite prevention and improve education

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Since 2016 the Virtual Engineering Centre (VEC) has been working with Dr Carri Westgarth’s research group (University of Liverpool) in developing a new approach for improving human understanding of canine body language to prevent bites.

The Virtual Engineering Centre, in collaboration with Dogs Trust, the University of Liverpool’s Institute of Infection, Veterinary and Ecological Sciences have created an immersive 3D environment to demonstrate the value of digital technologies in the identification and education around canine body language related to aggression.

The VEC created a proof of concept, immersive environment which would support academic research into further preventing dog bites. This could then be used as an educational tool, enabling users to better understand animal behaviour, in particular human-dog interaction and early signs of aggression.

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The support meant the Dogs Trust could:

  • Improve education around canine behaviour, particularly those highlighted within the Canine Ladder of Aggression
  • Explore, identify and highlight early signs of aggressive behaviour within dogs
  • Enhance education and prevent future dog bites
  • Improve human and dog welfare
  • User remains safe and within a controlled environment

The Benefits

  • Realistic simulation that reduces unethical practices
  • Improves education and can support in overcoming language and learning disability barriers
  • Holds the potential for accelerating learning compared to traditional methods.

Client opinion

"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 educational tool to teach people how to be safe around dogs. Before a bite occurs, a dog will often display subtle behaviours to indicate that it is uncomfortable and does not want to be approached. By educating people about these behaviours, we hope that incidences of dog bites can be significantly reduced."

Paula Boyden,
Veterinary Director,
Dogs Trust