- Gazing behavior is a vital part of nonverbal communication, as it can provide information about attentional state, subtext, environment, and point of view. Both dogs and cats have previously been shown to display gazing behavior when presented with an unsolvable task, as well as follow nonverbal directional ques given by humans. The aim of this study was to evaluate if there was a difference between dog’s and cat’s frequency and duration of human-directed gazing behavior when a preferred reinforcer was placed in sight but out of reach (unsolvable task). Differences in response if the human was attentive or inattentive was also assessed. A total of 48 shelter animals (24 cats and 24 dogs) were presented with an unsolvable task and their resulting gaze duration and frequency towards an unfamiliar person was recorded. It was found that dogs gaze for a significantly longer duration than cats; however, the cats tended to be more attune to the human’s attentional state than the dogs were.
Key Words: Gazing behavior, social referencing, unsolvable task, attentional state, shelter animal behavior, gaze