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The behaviour of Labrador retrievers in suburban backyards: The relationships between the backyard environment and dog behaviour

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Abstract

Most pet dogs in urban Australia are confined to their owners’ property in a suburban backyard. Despite the literature on the effect of captive environments on both farm and zoo animals, there is little objective information on the effects of confining pet dogs. The prevalence of behavioural problems in pet dogs may be an indication that dogs are not well adapted to some backyard environments. The aim of this study was to examine the effect of being confined in backyards on dog behaviour by observing the behaviour of 55 Labrador retrievers in various backyard settings. The behaviour of the dogs was recorded for 48h and the social and physical environment of the dogs quantified. Time budgets of dog behaviour were developed and relationships between behaviour and environmental factors examined. Factors related to dog activity included the amount of foliage in the yard, the number of transitions the dog made between locations and whether the dog was kept inside at night, but also had a kennel provided in the yard. Factors related to problem behaviours, such as digging and chewing, included whether the dog was gold coloured and had no formal training, the dog being more active and the dog performing a high number of transitions between locations in the backyard. It is suggested that it may be the type of relationship with the owner that affects Labrador behaviour, rather than factors such as size of the yard, having another dog present or time spent with the dog.

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... Owner experience is also believed to have an effect on the occurrence of various problematic canine behaviors, including nuisance barking (Jagoe and Serpell, 1996;Kobelt et al., 2003;Bennett and Rohlf, 2007). Furthermore, the amount time that the dog is left home alone, the amount of exercise received by the dog, and the amount of obedience training received by the dog are all considered to influence the quality of the owner-dog bond, as well as the occurrence of nuisance barking behavior (Clark and Boyer, 1993;Jagoe and Serpell, 1996;Clark et al., 1997;Marston and Bennett, 2003;Bennett and Rohlf, 2007;Kobelt et al., 2007;Rehn and Keeling, 2011;Flint et al., 2012). Although a number of studies have investigated some of the factors that may predispose dogs to nuisance barking, little attention has been paid to the possibility of a correlation between these factors and actual nuisance barking behavior. ...
... This is in accordance with the results of a recent study by Flint et al. (2012) and is not completely unexpected given the dynamic nature of a dog's suburban environment. Because many dogs in Australia (and 84% of our sample) are typically confined to their owner's backyards when the owners are not at home (Kobelt et al., 2007), a vast array of stimuli in the surrounding environment may give rise to reactive barking (Yin, 2002). The owners identified passers-by and dogs on the street as one of the main stimuli that may have triggered barking in their dogs. ...
... Such behaviors are considered problematic if they pose a nuisance or a danger to household members [2]. In turn, behaviors that are unacceptable for dog owners are described as undesirable, even if they are consistent with an animal's ethogram of normal behavior [3][4][5]. Examples of undesirable behavior include excessive activity, excitation, vocalization or unprovoked aggression [6,7]. Stereotypies are repetitive, constant acts that serve no obvious purpose [8]. ...
... Spinning and jumping are the only types of physical activity that are available to dogs in confinement. In the absence of physical and mental stimulation, dogs engage in such activities to combat stress and boredom [4,5]. In the current study, undesirable motor activities were also more prevalent in dogs living indoors (in apartments) and animals kept in kennels. ...
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Abnormal repetitive behaviors often pose problems for dog owners. Such behaviors are considered undesirable if they pose a nuisance or a danger to humans. Ancient dog breeds are intelligent, sociable, active, boisterous and need regular outdoor exercise, but are also independent and reluctant to follow commands. This study aimed to identify factors (breed, sex, origin, housing conditions) and situations that contribute to undesirable behaviors, such as aggression towards humans and other dogs/animals, separation anxiety, excessive vocalization, and oral and locomotion behaviors in Akita, Alaskan Malamute, Basenji, Samoyed and Siberian husky. Undesirable behaviors in dogs were analyzed based on the results of 897 questionnaires. Breed influenced aggressive behavior towards other dogs/animals, aggression towards humans, undesirable oral and locomotion behaviors, and excessive vocalization. Aggressive behaviors were more prevalent in females than in males. Housing conditions were linked with aggression towards other dogs/animals, aggression at mealtime, and excessive vocalization. Undesirable behaviors were most frequently reported in Akitas, Siberian huskies and Samoyeds, and they were more prevalent in males than in females and dogs living indoors with or without access to a backyard. Aggressive behaviors towards other dogs and animals, excessive vocalization and undesirable motor activities posed the greatest problems in ancient dog breeds.
... The reverse effect was found for English Springer Spaniels, such that conformation-bred individuals tended to be more owner-aggressive than fieldbred individuals (Duffy et al., 2008). Aggressive individuals within a breed have also been linked to yellow coat color in Labradors (in Houpt and Willis, 2001; Kobelt et al., 2007) and golden coat color in English Cocker Spaniels (Amat et al., 2009; Podberscek and Serpell, 1996). This may be due to an overlap in the biochemical synthesis pathways of melanin and dopamine and other neurotransmitters (e.g., low levels of serotonin) that contribute to the expression of aggressive behavior (Hemmer, 1990). ...
... En contraste, los resultados obtenidos por Kobelt, Hemsworth, Barnett, Coleman & Butler (2007) indican que, para mejorar la adaptación del perro a su hábitat, es primordial incluir espacios adecuados de esparcimiento al aire libre, al proporcionar una mejor calidad de vida. Estos datos importantes deben ajustarse al perro de trabajo policial; teniendo como antecedente, que, incluso, las razas de perros no percibidas como peligrosas pueden serlo, al no adaptarse de forma deseable a su propietario, los cuales pueden ser más propensos a ser abandonados y a que se les aplique la eutanasia en los hogares de refugio (Marston, Bennett & Coleman, 2004). ...
... Black Labradors took longer to learn a reversal learning task than yellow Labradors and committed more errors [15]. Of 28 black, 20 yellow and 8 chocolate Labrador retrievers living in Australian backyards, yellow Labradors were observed to exhibit an increased likelihood of problem behaviours (barking, digging, object manipulation, chewing objects) (r = 0.3, P < 0.01) compared with Labradors of other colours [16]. Lack of training was linked to increased problem behaviours only in the yellow Labradors (P < 0.001). ...
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Background: Making assumptions regarding temperament and intelligence based on the physical appearance of dogs can be a conscious or unconscious human act. Labrador retrievers with chocolate-coloured coats are anecdotally considered to be less trainable and more hyperactive and aggressive than their black or yellow peers. To test these assertions, we analysed the owner-reported behavioural traits of Labradors in relation to both their observable coat colour, and their TYRP1 and MC1R genotypes. Results: We used the results of an owner-based questionnaire to determine scores for 21 behavioural traits and test whether these scores varied with coat colour (n = 225). Familiar dog aggression was the only trait that was found to vary significantly with coat colour (P = 0.013). Yellow Labradors had a higher score than chocolate Labradors, even when corrected for multiple testing (P = 0.021).We repeated the analyses for a subset of 63 Labradors with available genotyping data for the genes (MC1R and TYRP1) that are known to determine the primary coat colours in Labradors. Familiar dog aggression scores varied with both the observed coat colour and MC1R genotype. Dogs homozygous for MC1R recessive allele (with yellow coat colour) scored higher for familiar dog aggression than either black or chocolate Labradors. However, no association maintained significance when incorporating Bonferroni correction. Dog trainability scores decreased additively as the number of recessive brown alleles for TYRP1 increased. This allelic association was independent of the observable coat colour. Dogs homozygous for the brown allele were considered less trainable than dogs with no brown alleles (P = 0.030). Conclusions: Our results do not support that chocolate-coloured Labradors are more hyperactive or aggressive than either black or yellow Labradors. Trainability scores varied with TYRP1 genotype but not the observable coat colour. Further validation is required.
... En contraste, los resultados obtenidos por Kobelt, Hemsworth, Barnett, Coleman & Butler (2007) indican que, para mejorar la adaptación del perro a su hábitat, es primordial incluir espacios adecuados de esparcimiento al aire libre, al proporcionar una mejor calidad de vida. Estos datos importantes deben ajustarse al perro de trabajo policial; teniendo como antecedente, que, incluso, las razas de perros no percibidas como peligrosas pueden serlo, al no adaptarse de forma deseable a su propietario, los cuales pueden ser más propensos a ser abandonados y a que se les aplique la eutanasia en los hogares de refugio (Marston, Bennett & Coleman, 2004). ...
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La Policía Nacional de Colombia (PNC), en el desarrollo de programas educativos que emplean equipos caninos (Perro-Manejador), utiliza pruebas de selección, fundamentales para determinar cuáles animales son Aptos o No Aptos para iniciar el adiestramiento, continuarlo y finalizar su certificación. Por lo anterior los objetivos de esta investigación fueron: 1). Proponer un conjunto de indicadores etológicos para evaluar el perro detector de sustancias, a partir de una prueba empírica de campo con base a instrumentos y 2). Determinar los criterios de calificación para el perro detector de sustancias durante el proceso de asociación, potenciación y certificación para cada una de las pruebas evaluadas. Lo anterior permite que los instrumentos se validen para que sean confiables y predecir los perros que aprueban o desaprueban las evaluaciones comportamentales, aportando al desarrollo de los programas académicos. Para alcanzar el propósito del estudio, se efectúo un análisis univariado utilizando tablas de contingecia de 2 por 2, estimando la Sensibilidad y Especificidad para cada una de las pruebas realizadas en los caninos detectores de sustancias narcóticas y explosivas (n=549); determinando los valores predictivos de los Test: Instrumento No 1 (Test-retest), Instrumento No 2 (Potenciación y Asociación) e Instrumento No 3 (certificación final). Estableciendo el nivel de acuerdo entre los evaluadores (Kappa de Cohen), correlacionando las 17 variables comportamentales individuales y agrupadas para predecir los caninos Aptos y No Aptos para el servicio policial. Dentro de los principales hallazgos se evidencia una sensibilidad y especificidad altas, con resultados estadísticamente significativos para la mayoría de las variables comportamentales analizadas individualmente (P<0,05). Siendo la “perseverancia”, la prueba que más influye en los Test antes del adiestramiento (Kappa de 1,0), además de un nivel de acuerdo “casi perfecto” entre los evaluadores para la mayoría de las pruebas, prediciendo en un alto grado los caninos Aptos y No Aptos para el servicio policial (Perros No Aptos en la certificación final, n=12; 3%). Es fundamental que los programas académicos que emplean binomios, validen sus pruebas, estableciendo cuales son las variables más representativas para cada evaluación en particular. Lo anterior mejora y ajusta los instrumentos de acuerdo a las necesidades de cada institución o especialidad del servicio canino, disminuyendo costos y mejorando los estándares de calidad, dependiendo del contexto operativo a desempeñar por cada binomio.
... Indeed, separation-related behavior and noise phobia have been rated in the top three most important companion dog welfare issues (Buckland et al., 2014). There are many factors that can contribute to undesirable behaviors in dogs including genetics [e.g., breed characteristics and inheritance (Scott and Fuller, 1965;Goddard and Beilharz, 1983;Saetre et al 2006)], the environment [e.g., prenatal environment, parental behavior, husbandry methods, interaction with conspecifics, humans, and new experiences (Hetts et al., 1992;Jagoe and Serpell, 1996;Kobelt et al., 2007)], as well as exposure to training and training methods (e.g., Jagoe and Serpell;Hiby et al., 2004;Rooney and Cowan, 2011). Many of these factors have been explored in an attempt to better predict desired traits later in life for individuals kept for breeding, exhibition, work or recreation animals, or household pets (Slabbert and Odendall, 1999, Hennessy et al., 2001, Svartberg, 2002, Foyer et al., 2013. ...
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An estimated 40% of dogs living as companion dogs are believed to exhibit some form of anxiety or stress-related behavior. Although this represents a significant welfare issue, our understanding of the origins of anxiety in dogs remains limited. Genetics, environment, and training methods have all been investigated, yet little attention has been paid to the care provided by the mother. Research conducted with altricial species that rely heavily on maternal care for survival, suggests that early maternal care behaviors play an important role in the development of the infant and thus, behavior and temperament later in life. The most critical maternal behaviors include contact, nursing, licking (particularly anogenital licking which stimulates urination and defecation), punishment, thermoregulation and movement. In domestic dogs, rapid neurological development occurs between postnatal days 3 and 16, yet investigations fail to measure or acknowledge the role that maternal care has during this critical window, or how the experience of puppies during this time influences behavior later in life, including response to stressful events. Evidence from the rodent literature indicates profound effects of maternal care on neurological and behavioral development. While there may be differences in maternal behavior between rats and dogs, the underlying physiological mechanisms underpinning the programming of stress-related behavior is likely to be similar. For instance, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis or stress responsiveness pathways are profoundly altered by maternal behaviors, and these changes are conserved throughout adult life. . In this review we examine the literature related to maternal care in canids alongside the literature related to maternal care in rodents and provide evidence that maternal care is critical to the healthy development of domestic dogs. Emphasis is placed on methodologies for quantifying maternal care, and on the physiological mechanisms that might underpin behavioral changes induced by different amounts and types of maternal care.
... Even when specific dog breeds are not perceived to be dangerous, the place of individual companion dogs in society may be tenuous. In Australia, peoples' homes usually include a confined backyard and, as a result, many dogs have regular access to an outdoor area (Kobelt et al., 2007). Although this may seem ideal, studies have shown that dogs who live in large sized dwellings, particularly those who live in family homes that have a backyard, are rarely taken out and walked for long (Marinelli et al., 2007). ...
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In the past, dogs were bred to perform specific utilitarian roles. Nowadays, the dog's most common role is that of human companion. Our world has changed dramatically since the first dog breeds were developed, yet many of these existing breeds remain popular as companions. While dogs kept as companions can provide a range of benefits to humans, in some cases the relationship between dog and human can be tenuous or even dangerous. Many dogs exhibit behaviours their owners consider undesirable and these dogs may cause disruption and injury to humans and other animals. As a consequence, many are relinquished to shelters. It is proposed that some of this unsuitable behaviour may be the result of inappropriate dog-owner matching, made more likely by the general change in the role of dogs, from working dog to companion animal, coupled with a strong tendency for modern owners and breeders to select dogs primarily on the basis of morphological, rather than behavioural, characteristics. This paper highlights how roles for dogs have changed and the importance of taking physical health and behaviour, as well as perceived beauty, into consideration when breeding and selecting dogs as companions. The measurement of behaviour and limitations of existing canine behaviour assessments are discussed. Finally, it is suggested that scientific development of accurate behavioural assessments, able to identify desirable canine behavioural traits, would provide invaluable tools for a range of dog-related organisations.
... or the presence of a familiar caretaker on the social play between conspecifics in domestic dogs. Kobelt et al. (2007) reported that most play behavior exhibited by dogs (both human-directed and between conspecifics) was observed when a human was also present in a familiar setting. Mehrkam et al. (2014) demonstrated that programmed sessions of human interaction significantly increased levels of social play among pair-housed wolves and wolf-dog crosses compared to baseline conditions in which human interaction was not available. ...
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Domestic dogs are a highly playful species that are evidently sensitive to the attentional state of conspecifics as well as humans. Given that an animal’s social environment can influence play, audience effects may catalyze social play. While prior research has shown that intraspecific attention maintains social play in dog–dog dyads, it is unknown whether interspecific (specifically, human) attention maintains social play between dogs. Our objective in the present study was to examine whether a relationship exists between the availability of human attention and social play in domestic dogs. Familiar dog–dog dyads were exposed to three sessions each consisting of three experimental conditions that differed in the degree of availability of owner attention. Observed levels of social play were significantly higher during conditions in which an attentive owner was present than during conditions in which an owner was either inattentive or absent. Furthermore, this effect was maintained across repeated sessions. This is the first experimental evidence of an interspecific audience effect facilitating social play in domestic dogs. The availability of caretaker attention may be a proximate explanation for social play in canids that have ontogenetically rich histories with humans and also retain neotonized behavior as adults. Further research is needed to clarify the mechanisms contributing to the relationship between interspecific attention and social play in these populations and establish a more comprehensive understanding of play behavior in animals.
... 44 For example, it is now common for many companion dogs to be left alone for extended periods, expected to behave calmly and quietly, with little social contact. 45 Owners are the ultimate determinants of whether their dog's behavior is problematic or acceptable. What would constitute a normal level of barking by one owner may be perceived as excessive by another. ...
Article
The most common role of a domestic dog in the developed world currently is that of companion. Puppy socialization practices play a large role in the development of well-adjusted adult dogs that display few undesirable behaviors, and which can establish a positive, lifelong relationship with their owner. Age-appropriate socialization practices should begin within a few days of birth, and should extend well into adulthood. These practices should aim to provide exposure to many of the types of experiences, people, and objects that the dog is likely to encounter over the course of its life, in a controlled and pleasant way. Dogs that are appropriately socialized as puppies are less likely to exhibit behavioral problems as adults, including aggression and fearfulness. They are more likely to engage in positive social behaviors with humans, and can learn how to play games with humans better than dogs without proper socialization. However, the evidence in support of puppy socialization classes is less clear. There is some evidence that puppy classes positively impact adult behavior, but other studies show no clear benefit. Since socialization should begin early in a puppy’s life, it is the responsibility of the breeder and the owner. Breeders can ensure that puppies are exposed to age-appropriate experiences while in the litter, and owners must ensure that the dog continues to have varied experiences throughout its life. Veterinarians are also an important part of this process, and are heavily relied upon by owners to provide information about health and behavior. Since veterinarians often see puppies during vaccinations, owners can be educated about proper socialization practices at those visits. Future research should aim to determine the minimum amounts of socialization required for a puppy, and whether there is a maximum amount, beyond which there is no benefit, or even a disadvantage.
... The extent to which management of working dogs contrasts with that of the wider companion dog population merits close scrutiny. However, using the example that 75% of Australian dogs are in single dog households and that levels of daily exercise are low (Kobelt et al., 2003(Kobelt et al., , 2007, it may be wrong to assume that companion dogs have a better level of welfare. In the best scenarios, the intrinsic value of many working dogs suggests that they may receive more regular veterinary check-ups than companion dogs and that the expense of veterinary treatments is less of an obstacle to comprehensive care (Branson et al., 2010). ...
Article
Our understanding of the welfare of companion animals is both incomplete and fragmentary. For domestic dogs, most research has focused on animals that do not have stable relationships with people, such as dogs in laboratories and rehoming kennels. The welfare of pet dogs has received limited attention, presumably due to an assumption that owners have their best interests at heart. However, owners' conceptions of their companion's needs can be inconsistent or even contradictory. Dogs are, on the one hand, sentimentalised via anthropomorphic interpretations, but on the other, mythologized as the descendants of savage wolves requiring harsh correction before they will conform to the demands of living alongside people. Canine welfare science attempts to replace such mythos with objective norms that have proved effective when applied to other domesticated species. However, animal welfare science is rarely value-free or unambiguous, since it has variously been defined in terms of physical health, psychological well-being, and the freedom to perform 'natural' behaviour. Here we attempt to strike a balance between each of these approaches while addressing a wide variety of current issues in canine welfare, including: concerns arising from the breeding of pedigree dogs; inappropriate training methods; and the widespread occurrence of behavioural disorders. We finish by describing some barriers to improvement in dog welfare, including owners' anthropomorphisms, the challenges of finding reliable indicators of well-being, and the effects of applying erroneous conceptual frameworks to the dog-owner relationship. © 2014 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg. All rights are reserved.
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As general veterinary practitioners, we have a duty of care that applies not only to the physical health needs of our patients but also to their mental well-being. Advising clients about how to enrich their home and kennel environments is an important part of fulfilling that duty of care and will also enrich the relationship between the veterinary practitioner and client. This article discusses how to optimize welfare for dogs and cats in the home and kenneled environments through appropriate environmental enrichment and understanding of species-typical behavioral requirements.
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Surveys and questionnaires are regularly used in studies of human–animal relationships. However, little attention has been given to understanding how survey participants are provided with instructions for the selection of a single animal within a multi-pet household, let alone the implications for reporting and interpreting data. We reviewed the instructions for the selection of an individual animal in studies addressing emotional or psychological attachment between people and dogs. By searching multidisciplinary journals from the year 2000 onwards, we identified a total of 128 papers, of which 63 met the inclusion criteria. Where selection criteria/instructions were not clear, authors were contacted. One in five studies (21%, or n = 13) did not report their instructions. When provided, instructions varied considerably. The most commonly provided direction was “favorite/closest relationship” (n = 12, or 19%). The remainder (n = 38, or 60%) were spread across eight different categories. Around half of the studies used a validated questionnaire that already contained an instruction, though a similar proportion of studies implemented author-designed instruments. Overall, the common absence and inconsistency of instructions for individual dog selection is taken to imply that there is no standard expectation or approach for instructions to be reported in studies of human relationships with dogs, or human–animal relationships more generally. We recommend further research on the implication of selection methods to ensure that instructions can be matched with specific research aims.
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The dog (Canis familiaris) has been domesticated for thousands of years but the effects of different housing regimens on canine behaviour are poorly understood. This study presents behavioural data collected from solitary and group-housed dogs housed in animal shelters and laboratories. The dogs differed greatly in their behaviour under the different housing regimens. Solitary dogs were more inactive (72-85% of observed time compared with group-housed dogs 54-62% of observed time), and spent more time in non-social repetitive locomotory behaviour categories (4-5% compared with group-housed 0.9-2% of observed time). Group-housed dogs were not only able to interact socially, but also spent more time investigating the floor of their pens, presumably because of the increased olfactory stimuli. Group-housed laboratory dogs provided with kennels used them for: rest, play and the control of social interactions. Single-housed dogs, which were housed in smaller pens, had low overall activity and tended towards stereotyped circling rather than pacing. At all the sites the opportunities for interactions with humans were limited (0.24-2.52% of the time observed). The results are discussed in terms of cage design and animal husbandry.
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A group of ‘low’ (n = 217) and ‘high’ (n = 218) aggression purebred English Cocker Spaniels were compared in relation to demographics and owner interactions. Owners of ‘low’ aggression dogs were more likely to be: older (65 years +; χ2 = 18.753, P < 0.01) and more attached to their dogs (U = 20346, P < 0.001). Dogs in the ‘high’ aggression group were: significantly more likely to be of a solid colour (χ2 = 38.13, P < 0.001); more likely to have been chosen for pet purposes only (χ2 = 25.161, P < 0.001); more likely to have suffered an illness during the first 16 weeks of life (χ2 = 14.899, P < 0.001); groomed less often (t = 2.252, P < 0.05); given less time for walks/exercise (t = 2.618, P < 0.01); slow in obeying commands (U = 17967.5, P < 0.001), more likely to pull on the lead (U = 16663, P < 0.001); and more likely to react to loud or high-pitched noises (χ2 = 14.142, P < 0.001). Factors often quoted to be important in the development of dominance-related aggression, such as feeding the dog before the owner eats, a lack of obedience training, and playing competitive games with the dog, were not found to be significantly different between the two groups. Determining the importance of various factors in the development of canine aggression will enable us to better advise owners in the rearing of their dogs.
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Two thousand questionnaires were distributed randomly via the Kennel Club (UK) to owners of purebred English Cocker Spaniels (ECSs). Owners were asked to give details about the ECSs they owned: age, sex, neuter status, coat colour. They were also asked to indicate whether their dog showed aggression (on a 1–5 scale; 1, never or almost never; 5, always or almost always) in any of 13 situations. These were: aggression towards strange dogs (A1), towards strangers approaching the dog (A2), towards persons approaching/visiting the home (A3), towards persons approaching the owner away from home (A4), towards children in the household (A5), towards other dogs in the household (A6), when the owner gives attention to other person or animal (A7), toward owner or member of owner's family (A8), when disciplined (A9), when reached for or handled (A10), when in restricted spaces (A11), at meal times/ defending food (A12) and, suddenly and without apparent reason (A13).
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This study compares the effects of social and physical enrichment on the behaviour and physiological responses of group and pair-housed beagles. Some 432 h of observation were collected from 48 beagles assigned equally to four groups: (1) a control group, (2) a group given increased opportunities for social contact with conspecifics, (3) a group given 30 s day−1 of intensive handling, and (4) a group provided with three different toys/chews permanently suspended in the pen: Rawhide, Gumabone chew and a piece of plastic tubing. After 2 months both the controls and the enriched groups spent less time resting and more time on hind legs looking out of the pen. Both human-socialised and dog-socialised groups maintained pre-treatment scores of ‘sniffing kennel mate’, and ‘time spent in contact with kennel mate’, while the control and environment-enriched groups scores for these behaviours fell, but overall intraspecific socialisation in these groups showed no change. During human-socialisation, dogs' time spent chewing items of cage furniture was reduced by 90%. Following 2 months of environmental enrichment, dogs spent a substantial proportion of their time (24%) using the toys, showing that frequent changes of items are not necessary to avoid habituation, if the appropriate toys/ chews are used. Time spent inactive by environment-enriched dogs fell by 20% of pre-treatment values to 51% of total time. However, socialising with kennel mates also fell by 70% of pre-treatment values to 4% of the total time. Environment-enriched dogs solicited less play, played less and spent less time in contact with their kennel mate. These changes may show a ‘preference’ by the dogs for toys over social activity or they may be due to competition for toys. Environment-enriched dogs also spent less time chewing items of pen furniture (a fall on pre-treatment scores of 85%) and walked less (a fall of 35%). Following the addition of a platform to the pens these dogs spent over 50% of their time on it observing surroundings as well as guarding toy items. The study shows that appropriate enrichment can: increase the complexity of dog behaviour, substantially change the expression of behaviour and help to prevent undesirable behaviours. Small increases in the opportunities for social interactions with handlers may produce changes in behaviour with conspecifics. In large facilities physical enrichment is likely to be the most cost-effective option, but staff should be encouraged to have regular positive socialisation sessions with their dogs.
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Sleep-wake cycles and other night-time behaviours were observed in 24 domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) living in various urban habitats. Recordings of 18 of these animals were made with a video camera under red light. On average, these dogs had 23 sleep-wake episodes during 8 h. The sleep-wake cycles consisted of an average of 16 min asleep and 5 min awake. All dogs were seen in quiet sleep and most dogs were also seen in active sleep. Usually active sleep was followed immediately by spontaneous arousal. As reported in humans and cats, active sleep was suppressed for a night in a dog placed in a new habitat, then it occurred the following 2 nights. On 31 occasions when two or more dogs were sleeping together, they had non-synchronous sleep-wake cycles, with waking only synchronising in response to a strong stimulus. Barking occurred in 13 of the 18 video-recorded dogs and six of these barked more than five times in 8 h. Nine of the 14 dog owners unwittingly disrupted the sleep of their dogs. The pattern of sleeping and waking in dogs was quite different from that known to occur in humans. These different sleep patterns sometimes led to dogs being a nuisance to people in the neighbourhood, but were welcomed by owners who kept their dog for protection as well as companionship.
Article
Free-ranging gray wolves (Canis lupus) generally inhabit large home ranges, yet they are housed in a variety of restricted spaces when in captivity. There is continual debate as to whether space restrictions alter a wolf's behavior. The purpose of these studies was to remotely measure and then compare the amount and frequency of activity of gray wolves housed in small, artificial enclosures vs. large, more natural enclosures. Test animals comprised three adult wolves housed in kennels and three and four wolves housed in separate natural enclosures. Kenneled wolves had 2.8 m2 of surface area per wolf, and wolves in natural enclosures had 466.6 m2 (South Pack) and 349.9 m2 (North Pack) per wolf. Wolves were fitted with radiotelemetry collars containing activity sensors. Activity data were recorded every 20 min for 57 continuous hr. The amount of activity for each wolf was calculated using areas under the curve (AUCs), and the frequency of activity was analyzed by spectral analysis. There was no difference (P ≥ 0.22) in AUCs between kenneled wolves (1.399 ± 0.214 x 105 radians) and South Pack wolves (1.564 ± 0.139 X 105 radians) or North Pack wolves (1.617 ± 0.192 x 105 radians). All three groups had similar peak spectral values at frequencies that were close to daily cycles (i.e., ω = 0.12–0.17 cycles per unit time). Peaks in coherence near the dominant spectral frequency were most significant between the natural enclosures and the least significant between the kenneled wolves and the South Pack wolves. Based on these criteria of activity and under these circumstances, enclosure size appeared to have no effect on wolf activity. However, small sample sizes and variation in the data do not make these results definitive. © 1996 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Article
There has been an increasing emphasis in Australia on confining dogs to owner’s properties (household backyards) as a solution to problems of dog aggression. Therefore, there is a need to determine the social and physical conditions that make up the dog’s backyard environment and how these factors may affect dog behaviour and welfare. The aim of this study was to provide an overview of the conditions provided to dogs in suburban Melbourne (Australia) and any behavioural problems associated with these conditions. A survey of 203 dog owners across suburban Melbourne was conducted. The questionnaire consisted of questions relating to demographics, the dogs’ routine and confinement and what behaviours the owners observed in their dogs. The relationship between some of the environmental factors and the occurrence of problem behaviour was then examined. The main behaviour problems reported by owners were overexcitement (63%) and jumping up on people (56%). Some of the factors that were correlated with the occurrence of problem behaviours included how well the dog obeyed commands (P
Article
The Handbook of Applied Dog Behavior and Training series provides a coherent and integrated approach to understanding and controlling dog behavior. In Volume 3, various themes introduced in Volumes 1 and 2 are expanded upon, especially causally significant social, biological, and behavioral influences that impact on the etiology of behavior problems and their treatment. Ethological observations, relevant behavioral and neurobiological research, and dog behavior clinical findings are reviewed and critiqued in detail. Many of the training concepts, procedures, and protocols described have not been previously published, making this book a unique contribution to dog behavior and training literature.
Article
Wright, J.C. and Nesselrote, M.S., 1987. Classification of behavior problems in dogs: distributions of age, breed, sex and reproductive status. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci., 19: 169-178. One hundred and seventy behavior problems were observed in 105 dogs referred for behavior- problem management by practicing veterinarians. Ninety percent of the observed behavior prob- lems were classified within three major categories: aggression; stimullis reactivity; separation- related. Aggression and stimulus reactivity problems were further sub-divided by their predomi- nant behavioral components, i.e. excessive approach or avoidance in relation to the target stimuli. The mean age for dogs presented for problem behavior was 3.4 years, which did not differ as a function of diagnostic category (P> 0.05) .The distributions of different types of aggression seen in dogs and the most frequent pair-wise combinations of different types of aggression in the sample were described. Significantly more intact males and neutered females were referred for aggressive and stimulus reactivity behavior problems (P < 0.001) , but dogs with sepAration-related problems did not differ (P> 0.05) .The value of identifying the predominant components of behavior prob- lems for clarifying the direction of behavior change was discussed.
Article
The effects of different spatial areas and different social conditions on behaviours of beagles maintained in a laboratory were evaluated. Eighteen female purpose-bred beagles were divided into six groups of three, and housed individually for 3 months each in six different housing conditions: (A) a 6.1 m × 9.1 m outdoor pen; (B) a 1.8 m × 6.1 m outdoor run; (C) a 1.2 m × 3.66 m indoor run; (D) a 0.9 m × 1.2 m × 0.84 m cage; (E) a 0.9 m × 1.2 m × 0.84 m cage with 30 min of forced treadmill exercise, 5 days week-1; (F) a 0.71 m × 0.86 m × 0.69 m cage. Behaviours of six dogs housed in pairs in Conditions A and C were also compared. Behaviours studied were movement, vocalisation, lying down, sleep, object manipulation, barrier manipulation, barrier jumping, fence running, agonistic and affiliative activities, and proximity. Behavioural effects were compared among housing conditions, order of rotation through each housing condition, and behavioural changes over time during each 3 month rotation. Dogs spent more time moving in pens and runs than in cages. Dogs housed in the greatest degree of social isolation spent the most time moving, exhibited the greatest number of bizarre movements, and vocalised the most. Dogs housed in the smallest cages spent more time grooming and in manipulation of enclosure barriers than those housed in any other conditions. Forced treadmill exercise did not significantly alter behaviours. When housed in pairs, dogs spent more time sleeping and showed a tendency to spend less time vocalising than when housed singly. The results indicate that spatial area and activity are not likely to be the most important factors to be considered when evaluating psychosocial well-being of dogs. In assessing the psychosocial well-being of dogs, social isolation may be as harmful or more harmful than spatial restriction.
Article
The purpose of this study was to determine if dogs that were treated ‘like a person’ or that had not been obedience trained were more likely to exhibit owner-reported behavior problems than dogs not treated in those ways. A questionnaire, comprising 75 items, was available in the waiting room of the Veterinary Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania throughout 1981. Responses to 11 questions answered by 711 different respondents, each from a different household, were analyzed. Nine questions related to treating the dog ‘like a person’ (either spoiling the dog or viewing it anthropomorphically), and the other two asked whether or not the dog had had formal obedience training and whether or not the dog had engaged in a behavior that the owner considered a problem. Results of a series of chi-square analyses failed to reveal that problem behaviors were related to obedience training, ‘spoiling’, or anthropomorphic activities. Further, a discriminant analysis was unable to identify any variable (item), including obedience training, ‘spoiling’ activities, or anthropomorphic attitudes, that distinguished between dogs engaging and not engaging in problem behaviors. Eight variables were then factor analyzed, resulting in four factors which counted for 71.15% of the variance. The factors, which pertained to owners sharing food with their dog, taking the dog along on trips or errands, dog comfort or resting places, and anthropomorphic attitudes, were analyzed along with the obedience training and behavior problem variables in an ANOVA. The results showed that dogs whose owners interacted with them in an anthropomorphic manner, ‘spoiled’ them in certain ways, or did not provide obedience training were no more likely to engage in behaviors considered a problem by the owner than were dogs not viewed anthropomorphically, ‘spoiled’ by their owner, or given obedience training.
Article
Over a period of 7 months, a residential area of Berkeley, California, was surveyed at hourly intervals throughout the day and night for free-ranging dogs, dogs with people, and cats. The animals' locations and behaviours were recorded. The highest frequency of sightings of free-ranging dogs occurred at 07.00 h, with a secondary peak at 17.00 h. The abundance of dogs with people followed a similar pattern except that the morning peak occurred 2 h later. Cats were most abundant at night between 18.00 and 04.00 h. The observable number of free-ranging dogs increased with increasing temperature to a maximum at 23° C and then declined with higher temperatures. The number of cat sightings was fairly constant with increasing temperature up to 17° C then declined with further temperature increase. Free-ranging dogs were sighted most frequently on private property. Street and side-walk use was greatest in the mornings; free-ranging dogs tended to travel in the morning and rest as the temperature increased later in the day. Most dogs were sighted within 1 or 2 blocks of their homes. The home ranges of 8 dogs are illustrated and described. These showed considerable individual variation, but generally had dense core areas and sparse travel areas (mean corridor home range = 1.74 hectares). Most free-ranging dogs were solitary and social groupings occurred only randomly. Despite their apparent lack of sociability, the dogs did not exhibit any signs of territoriality and agonistic encounters were never observed.
Article
When individual vertebrates loose grip on their life conditions stress symptoms appear and their welfare becomes problematic. Present day research supports the view that stress can originate when an organism experiences a substantial reduction of predictability and/or controllability (P/C) of relevant events. Behavioural (conflict and disturbed behaviour) and physiological (neuro-endocrine and autonomic processes) aspects of a reduction of P/C are reviewed. The highly dynamic patterns of the homeostatic mechanisms activated during stress make it difficult to deduce any simple relationship between stress and welfare. Nevertheless the following conclusions are drawn and defended:- moderate stress may be necessary to optimize vigilance- both the occurrence of one dramatic life event and a long lasting low P/C of relevant life conditions may lead to chronic stress symptoms with a pathological character- the coherence of pre- and post-pathological symptoms is decisive for an evaluation of individual welfare.A list of relevant stress symptoms has been presented, all of which indicate some stage of serious welfare problems. Their occurrence should never be typical of animals living in a farm, laboratory or zoo housing system. However, if after all this is the case, such systems have to be corrected and replaced by more appropriate ones as soon as possible.
Article
One of the requirements of the 1985 amendments to the Animal Welfare Act is the establishment of an exercise program for dogs. Assumptions have been made by some that larger cages or the presence of a companion animal will motivate exercise. To examine how cage size, pair housing and human contact affect exercise, a study was conducted using a computerized video-data acquisition system that measured distance traveled and time spent moving in 1 x 1 m, (single only) and 1 x 2 m (single and paired) and 1 x 1.5 m cage (paired only) cages. Male beagle dogs (n = 6) housed singly in the 1 m2 cage traveled an average of 55 m/hr spending only 8% (57 min) of the 12 h photo period in motion. When the cage size was doubled, the average distance traveled decreased to 13 m/hr and the time spent moving increased to 11% (77 min/day). When dogs were pair housed in a regulation size cage, the average distance traveled decreased to 8.6 m/hr and they spent less than 6% of the day in exercising (42 min/12 hrs). The greatest amount of exercise was seen when dogs were housed as a pair in a cage less than recommended size (an average of 109 m/hr and 8.8 min/hr). Therefore, these data indicate that larger cages or pair housing in regulation size cages have little or no effect on the activity of purpose bred male beagle dogs. There was, however, a direct correlation between activity, time and distance, and the presence of humans in the animal room.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)
Article
Behavioral complaints reported from surveys of dog owners were compared with those from owners whose dogs were examined in referral behavior practices. Types of behaviors that dog owners considered to be problems varied from those only mentioned in surveys to those considered serious enough to seek professional help. The most common complaints listed by owners in surveys included territorial aggression, excessive protection of the owner, and excessive vocalization. Problems reported for referred behavior cases were aggression, especially dominance-related, and house soiling. Types of referral cases reported in the literature were similar to those examined at a university behavior clinic, but distribution of problems varied.
Article
A longitudinal study of seven litters of labrador retrievers and five litters of border collies from eight weeks to 18 months of age indicated that the majority showed some degree of potentially undesirable behaviour when separated from their owners. Its incidence was particularly high in the labrador retrievers, of which 13 of 23 showed separation-related behaviour for more than a month. Socially diverse environments experienced between six and 12 months of age were associated with a subsequent absence of separation-related behaviour. In a questionnaire survey of dog owners, separation-related behaviour was reported in 27 of 94 dogs, and a further 20 had shown the behaviour in the past. Male dogs were more likely to express separation-related behaviour currently, and females were more likely never to have displayed it. The prevalence of the behaviour was unaffected by whether the dog was pedigree or mixed breed, or whether it had been obtained from a breeder or from a rescue organisation. Combining the results of the two studies, the owners of only six of 75 dogs showing separation-related behaviour had sought assistance, and only two of the owners had sought help from veterinary surgeons.
Behavioural problems in companion animals
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O'Farrell, V., 1990. Behavioural problems in companion animals. In: Monaghan, P., Woodgush, D. (Eds.), Managing the Behaviour of Animals. Chapman and Hall, New York, pp. 233–252.
New Perspectives on Our Lives with Companion Animals
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Katcher, A.H., Beck, A.M., 1983. New Perspectives on Our Lives with Companion Animals. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia.
The Genetics of the Dog
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Houpt, K.A., Willis, M., 2001. Genetics of behaviour. In: Ruvinsky, A., Sampson, J. (Eds.), The Genetics of the Dog. CABI Publishing, Wallingford, pp. 371-400.
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Lindsay, S.R., 2001. Handbook of Applied Dog Behavior and Training, vol. 2: Etiology and Assessment of Behavior Problems. Iowa State University Press, Iowa.
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Genetics of behaviour
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Activity patterns of gray wolves housed in small versus large enclosures
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