Publications (1)0 Total impact
Article: The relationships between motor lateralization, salivary cortisol concentrations and behavior in dogs[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: The degree of lateralization (LI) indicates both the direction and strength of a paw preference. Here, a positive value is indicative of a right paw bias, and a negative value of a left paw bias. Higher num-bers on the positive side of the scale and lower numbers on the negative side of the scale indicate a greater strength of that lateralization. The strength of motor lateralization (jLIj) is the absolute value of the LI. The use of absolute value removes directionality (i.e., does not indicate left or right paw bias) and instead in-dicates only the strength of the paw preference. Both LI and jLIj have been associated with behavioral differences in a range of species. The assessment of motor lateralization in the dog can be conducted by observing the paw used to perform motor tasks. Elevated cortisol concentrations have been associated with fearfulness in many species. Additionally, fearfulness and boldness can be assessed in response to so-called temperament tests. Consequently, in this study we examine the relationship between lateralization, temperament test results, and cortisol concen-trations in 43 potential guide dogs, of which 38 were Labrador retrievers and 5 were golden retrievers. Over a 14-month period, the current study assessed motor lateralization and salivary cortisol concen-trations 3 times (approximately 6 months of age, 14 months of age, and after the dogs' performance in the guide dog program had been determined) and behavior twice (approximately 6 and 14 months of age). This study is the first to examine the relationship between behavior, lateralization, and cortisol concen-trations in dogs. It implemented an objective and quantifiable assessment of behavior that may be of use to a variety of dog-focused stakeholders. Findings show that during the Juvenile testing period (6 months of age), dogs with higher cortisol con-centrations were typically less able to rest when exposed to the unfamiliar testing room. Results from both Juvenile and Adult Test (14 months of age) periods showed that a greater jLIj and LI were associated with more confident and relaxed behavior when dogs were exposed to novel stimuli and unfamiliar environ-ments. Significant elevations of cortisol concentrations were found at the completion of guide dog training when compared with results from the 2 prior test periods. This finding may reflect maturation or the effect of the prolonged kenneling which occurred during this period.Journal of Veterinary Behavior. 01/2009; 4:216-222.
University of Sydney
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
- Faculty of Veterinary Science