Date of Award

Summer 7-28-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Sarah-Elizabeth Byosiere

Second Advisor

Dr. Angie Johnston

Academic Program Adviser

Dr. Diana Reiss


Domestic dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) developed many behaviors across domestication, one example being gaze behavior. Gaze is the crux of other behaviors that make dogs unique in human-animal dyads, including lookbacks, gaze-following, and participation in an oxytocin feedback loop. Gaze behavior may have been motivated and sustained by evergreen cooperative relationships between dogs and humans (e.g., hunting, service roles). One way to confirm this relationship is to compare dogs to a domesticated species that lacks a protracted history of companionship: the domestic cat (Felis catus). In this study, we compare the gaze duration to owners of cats and dogs in a community-science setting. Due to the different historical relationship with humans, cats may have different gaze behavior than dogs. We replicated previous gaze studies with in-lab dogs and wolves (Nagasawa et al., 2015), and dingoes (Johnston et al., 2017), requesting owners to sit with their pet for 5 minutes and interact as they normally would. Cats and dogs gazed at their owners for similar durations, but owners spent much less time petting and in contact with their cats. There were no significant correlations between secondary variables (vocalizations, petting, and physical contact) and gaze. Dogs gazed less in our community science setting than dogs tested previously in-lab. Future research can include feral cats or wild cat species to shed light on gaze behavior development in the genus, while more community science work can identify the behaviors that dogs shift in familiar and unfamiliar environments.



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