It can help maintain the mental capacity of older dogs with regular mental stimulation with a touch screen training conducted by Hungarian and Austrian researchers.
Lifelong learning is useful and important not only for people, but also for dogs. Dogs are able to learn in their old age, and tasks that develop problem-solving thinking slow down the natural process of spiritual decline. However, the locomotor and other health problems of elderly dogs often hamper traditional physical fitness training.
“As dogs get old, farmers are facing fewer challenges, reducing the number and intensity of occupations, training, and the consequence is that elderly dogs are hardly affected by positive mental effects,” said Lisa Wallist, senior lecturer at ELTE Ethology Department Senior Family Dog Program and the first author of a joint study by the Research Group of the University of Veterinary Medicine in Messerli, ELTE.
An effective alternative to the problem is the touch-screen training of players, which replaces physical training with simple, reward-based computer-based thinking tasks and helps maintain the spiritual freshness of older dogs.
For dogs the use of the touch screen requires some pre-training, but as soon as they learn what the secret opens, they become obsessed with players.
The use of the touch screen has been tested on young dogs so far, but it has been proven that older dogs also react positively to this form of cognitive training. “Easy-to-use touch-screen tasks that give you a reward for solving the problem, even older dogs are very enthusiastic,” said Enikő Kubinyi, Senior Program Manager. A positive emotion generated by resolving a mental challenge can be paralleled by the feeling that an elderly person is learning something new or doing some enjoyable activity.
Regular demotion not only excludes people, but also dogs from the so-called apathetic state of old age, by increasing motivation and thus creating more opportunities for learning.
Learning with the touch screen can help counteract the intellectual depletion processes that are occurring during aging. “This scientific approach can launch an exciting research to raise awareness of the importance of lifelong learning for animals,” says Wallis.
The research team hopes that the study will encourage not only electronic product manufacturers and software developers, but also enthusiastic farmers for future collaboration.
Source: MTI / Image: hvg.hu /