A dog's behaviour can be used as an early warning sign that its elderly owner is struggling with their health or an older relative needs help.
By mapping the normal behaviour of a healthy, happy dog, Dr Cas Ladha, PhD student Nils Hammerla and undergraduate Emma Hughes were able to set a benchmark against which the animals could be remotely monitored.
This allowed for any changes in behaviour which might be an indication of illness or boredom to be quickly spotted.
Behaviour imaging expert Nils Hammerla said that humans and dogs have lived together in close proximity for thousands of years, which has led to strong emotional and social mutual bonds.
He said that a dog's physical and emotional dependence on their owner means that their wellbeing is likely reflect that of their owner and any changes such as the dog being walked less often, perhaps not being fed regularly, or simply demonstrating 'unhappy' behaviour could be an early indicator for families.