Aged dogs suffer from reduced mobility and activity levels, which can affect their daily lives. It is quite typical for owners of older dogs to reduce all activities such as walking, playing and training, since their dog may appear to no longer need them. Previous studies have shown that ageing can be slowed by mental and physical stimulation, and thus stopping these activities might actually lead to faster ageing in dogs, which can result in a reduction in the quality of life of the animal, and may even decrease the strength of the dog-owner bond. In this paper, we describe in detail a touchscreen apparatus, software and training method that we have used to facilitate dog computer interaction (DCI). We propose that DCI has the potential to improve the welfare of older dogs in particular through cognitive enrichment. We provide hypotheses for future studies to examine the possible effects of touchscreen use on physiological, behavioural and cognitive measures of dogs' positive affect and well-being, and any impact on the dog-owner bond. In the future, collaborations between researchers in animal-computer interaction, dog trainers, and cognitive scientists are essential to develop the hardware and software necessary to realise the full potential of this training and enrichment tool.
Keywords: Animal welfare; Dog computer interaction; Dogs; H.5.m. Information interfaces and presentation (ACI); Learning; Miscellaneous; Motivation; Senior; Touchscreen.