Horses And Dogs Speak Same Play Language

The ability to play is an important part of growing up for both humans and animals. In animals, play helps them release energy, learn key behaviors and bond with others.

Drs. Veronica Maglieria, Filippo Bigozzia, Marco Germain Riccobonoa and Elisabetta Palagiab created an experiment to study play between horses and dogs. The findings of the study indicate that both horses and dogs can interact in a way that reduces the chance of the play escalating into aggression. This means that both species can correctly perceive and interpret signals from the other.

For the study, the researchers found 20 videos of horses and dogs playing together for a minimum of 30 seconds. They then analyzed the videos to determine species-specific patterns. They found that both horses and dogs in play had a Relaxed Open Mouth, which is a playful expression in mammals. They also noted Rapid Facial Mimicry, where the animal mimics the other’s facial expression. This has been seen in dogs playing, but seems to occur just as often when horses and dogs play together.

The scientists found little difference in the way horses and dogs play; each was able to adjust their actions to reduce the likelihood that the play actions could be seen as aggressive.

Read more at HorseTalk.

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