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Training methods and owner–dog interactions: Links with dog behaviour and learning ability

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The methods by which owners train their pet dogs range widely, with some exclusively using rewards, and others using a combination, or only punishment-based methods. This paper examines links between the way in which owners reported to have trained their dogs and observations of the dogs’ subsequent behaviour. It also explores associations between behaviour of owner and dog when tested in their own home. A total of 53 owners were surveyed about their preferred methods for training each of seven common tasks, and were each filmed interacting with their dog in a series of standardised scenarios. Dogs owned by subjects who reported using a higher proportion of punishment were less likely to interact with a stranger, and those dogs whose owners favoured physical punishment tended to be less playful. However, dogs whose owners reported using more rewards tended to perform better in a novel training task. Ability at this novel task was also higher in dogs belonging to owners who were seen to be more playful and who employed a patient approach to training. This study shows clear links between a dog's current behaviour and its owner's reported training history as well as the owner's present behaviour. High levels of punishment may thus have adverse effects upon a dog's behaviour whilst reward based training may improve a dog's subsequent ability to learn.

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... Hence large animal welfare charities in the UK recommend the use of exclusively reward-based methods for training and rehabilitation (Dogs Trust, 2020;RSPCA, 2020). However, the use of aversive training methods (positive punishment and negative reinforcement) is widespread (Blackwell et al., 2008;Herron et al., 2009;Rooney and Cowan, 2011). Owners have been shown to rely on their own knowledge when making decisions about their training approaches, and this knowledge will be influenced by inconsistent and conflicting information available to the public (Todd, 2018). ...
... Although causation cannot be inferred, compared to positive reinforcement and negative punishment approaches, many studies provide evidence of an association between aversive training methods and a breakdown in the relationship between the dog and owner (Herron et al., 2009;Rooney and Cowan, 2011;Deldalle and Gaunet, 2014), owner-directed aggression (O'Heare, 2007;Herron et al., 2009;Casey et al., 2014), and a reduced capability of dogs to learn new tasks (Rooney and Cowan, 2011). ...
... Although causation cannot be inferred, compared to positive reinforcement and negative punishment approaches, many studies provide evidence of an association between aversive training methods and a breakdown in the relationship between the dog and owner (Herron et al., 2009;Rooney and Cowan, 2011;Deldalle and Gaunet, 2014), owner-directed aggression (O'Heare, 2007;Herron et al., 2009;Casey et al., 2014), and a reduced capability of dogs to learn new tasks (Rooney and Cowan, 2011). ...
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The majority of owners use rewards (e.g. treats and praise) when training their dogs. However, many additionally use aversive methods (e.g. physical reprimands, sound/spray distractions) which can compromise the welfare of dogs. The aim of this study was to identify factors associated with owner-reported use of aversive training methods. A study was conducted using data provided by owners living in the UK or Republic of Ireland participating in a longitudinal study (‘Generation Pup’). Data from a registration questionnaire completed when puppies were ≤16 weeks of age, and a follow-up questionnaire completed when dogs were nine-months of age were analysed. Responses to questions about owners’ intended/actual use of different training methods at each time point were grouped into two categories. ‘Reward only’ training: positive reinforcement (PR; increasing behaviour through application of rewarding stimulus) and/or negative punishment (NP; decreasing behaviour through removal of rewarding stimulus), and’ reward and aversive’ training: >2 methods of positive punishment (PP; decreasing behaviour by application of aversive stimulus) and/or negative reinforcement (NR; increasing behaviour through removal of aversive stimulus). Associations between training approach (’reward only’ / ‘reward and aversive’) and potential owner-related risk factors were modelled using multivariable logistic regression. Data from 2,154 owners at registration were collected, and a follow-up questionnaire for 9-month-old dogs were completed by 976 owners. At registration, 99.7% of owners reported their intention to use PR and/or NP, and 84.1% intended to use PP and/or NR. At 9 months, 99.7% of owners reported using PR and/or NP, and 74.2% used PP and/or NR. Data were available for 161 owners at both time points, of which 80% reported the same training approach in both questionnaires. At 9 months, not attending training or puppy classes in the previous 2-months (Odds Ratio = 3.16, 95% Confidence Interval = 2.18-4.59, P < 0.001), and not having dog-related employment (Odds Ratio = 2.70, 95% Confidence Interval = 1.53-4.77, P = 0.001) were associated with increased odds of reporting a reward and aversive approach. Owners aged 55 years or more were twice as likely as those younger than 55 (Odds Ratio = 1.93, 95% Confidence Interval = 1.29-2.87, P = 0.001), and male owners were three times as likely as female owners (Odds Ratio = 3.10, 95% Confidence Interval = 1.52-6.36, P = 0.002) to use a reward and aversive training approach. Owners reporting a reward and aversive training approach was common within this cohort. Increased awareness of optimal training approaches for dogs is needed, especially for older, male owners, who have not accessed puppy training classes.
... Studies have pointed to human influences on dogs' learning processes. Although some studies have found no effect of training method on the behavior or welfare of animals [25], some have raised evidence that the use of punitive methods in training may, for instance, affect a dog's ability to learn a new task [26], or increase their stress levels (e.g., [27,28]). A dog's ability to attend to a cue may also be influenced by the vocal information the trainer includes before the cue (e.g., saying the dog's name or an unknown word [29]); even if the dog is familiar with the cue, this vocal information may reduce the dog's performance. ...
... An alternative interpretation for these associations was that the trainers behaved more positively (i.e., using neutral or gentle tones of voice) in sessions when the dogs performed better. However, considering the fact that we also recorded reproachful speech used in tandem with good dog performance, and considering studies which have reported the effects of human behavior on their responses (e.g., [26][27][28][30][31][32]), we think this interpretation is improbable. Different emotional responses of dogs to interactions with humans have been demonstrated to be dependent on human behavior/attitude. ...
... Although the number of sessions each trainer conducted differed, this difference in trainer behavior may have contributed to the greater demand for cue repetitions on the part of dogs in sessions with Trainer 2. One possible explanation for the greater use of reproachful instead of gentle speech by Trainer 2 is a lower level of patience. The level of patience, in tandem with the amount of rewards provided, and trainer involvement in the interactions, has been shown to influence animal learning [26]. Trainer 1, who used gentle speech and laughter for longer, obtained responses from the dogs with longer latencies, but these did not prevent dogs from responding to more cues per session than when trained by Trainer 2. Considering the potential effects of a pleasant atmosphere for promoting a positive affective state in dogs [63], our outcomes recommend the use of a soft tone of voice and a relaxed atmosphere in training sessions, with the potential also for improving dogs' performance. ...
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The inclusion of life history as a possible influential factor is pivotal in studies on behavior, welfare, and cognition. Shelter dogs have usually experienced a life involving poor social interactions with humans. Thus, we aimed to investigate the behavioral responses of shelter dogs (SDs) and companion dogs (CDs) during the training of two vocal cues (“sit”, “paw”), as well as the possible associations between their responses and the behaviors of trainers. We studied 15 SDs and 15 CDs in up to eight five-minute training sessions. Dogs’ and trainers’ behaviors were recorded and analyzed (through GLM, GLMM, correlation and Mann–Whitney tests). Shelter dogs responded to more cues per session, with shorter latencies and fewer repetitions of cues. Moreover, SDs spent more time wagging their tails. Dogs’ sex and trainers’ behaviors were also associated with differences in dogs’ responses. The use of a reproachful tone of voice was associated with a greater number of cues responded to, shorter latencies, and fewer repetitions of cues. However, this type voice/discourse was also linked to a greater exhibition of non-training behaviors (e.g., exploring the room or jumping on the trainer), and to dogs spending less time next to the trainer and wagging their tails. On the other hand, the use of a neutral tone of voice and laughter, besides being linked to performance, was also associated with longer durations of tail wagging. Furthermore, the duration of the trainers’ orientation to dogs was correlated with the orientation of the dogs to the trainers. Our data suggest that, even when having experienced social deprivation from humans, SDs’ capacities to learn vocal cues were preserved, possibly due to ontogenic homeostasis processes. Shelter dogs’ greater interest in the sessions may be also credited to their socially-deprived routine. Our outcomes also point to an association between friendly interactions during training and dog performance and excitement, which suggests that such interactions may have the potential to improve SD welfare.
... Dogs from Group Reward showed a tendency to learn the cognitive bias task faster than dogs from Group Mixed. Similar findings were observed previously by Rooney et al. (2011) [37], who found a positive correlation between the reported use of reward-based training methods and a dog's ability to learn a novel task (touching a spoon with its nose). In another study, Marshall-Pescini et al (2008) [38] found that dogs with high-level training experience were more successful at opening a box to obtain food than dogs which had received either none or only basic training. ...
... Dogs from Group Reward showed a tendency to learn the cognitive bias task faster than dogs from Group Mixed. Similar findings were observed previously by Rooney et al. (2011) [37], who found a positive correlation between the reported use of reward-based training methods and a dog's ability to learn a novel task (touching a spoon with its nose). In another study, Marshall-Pescini et al (2008) [38] found that dogs with high-level training experience were more successful at opening a box to obtain food than dogs which had received either none or only basic training. ...
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Dogs play an important role in our society as companions and work partners, and proper training of these dogs is pivotal. For companion dogs, training helps preventing or managing dog behavioral problems—the most frequently cited reason for relinquishing and euthanasia, and it promotes successful dog-human relationships and thus maximizes benefits humans derive from bonding with dogs. For working dogs, training is crucial for them to successfully accomplish their jobs. Dog training methods range widely from those using predominantly aversive stimuli (aversive methods), to those combining aversive and rewarding stimuli (mixed methods) and those focusing on the use of rewards (reward methods). The use of aversive stimuli in training is highly controversial and several veterinary and animal protection organizations have recommended a ban on pinch collars, e-collars and other techniques that induce fear or pain in dogs, on the grounds that such methods compromise dog welfare. At the same time, training methods based on the use of rewards are claimed to be more humane and equally or more effective than aversive or mixed methods. This important discussion, however, has not always been based in solid scientific evidence. Although there is growing scientific evidence that training with aversive stimuli has a negative impact on dog welfare, the scientific literature on the efficacy and efficiency of the different methodologies is scarce and inconsistent. Hence, the goal of the current study is to investigate the efficacy and efficiency of different dog training methods. To that end, we will apply different dog training methods in a population of working dogs and evaluate the outcome after a period of training. The use of working dogs will allow for a rigorous experimental design and control, with randomization of treatments. Military (n = 10) and police (n = 20) dogs will be pseudo-randomly allocated to two groups. One group will be trained to perform a set of tasks (food refusal, interrupted recall, dumbbell retrieval and placing items in a basket) using reward methods and the other group will be trained for the same tasks using mixed methods. Later, the dogs will perform a standardized test where they will be required to perform the trained behaviors. The reliability of the behaviors and the time taken to learn them will be assessed in order to evaluate the efficacy and efficiency, respectively, of the different training methods. This study will be performed in collaboration with the Portuguese Army and with the Portuguese Public Security Police (PSP) and integrated with their dog training programs.
... This model heuristically explains the herding of sheep by a shepherd dog as a model comprising self-propelled particle with a constant speed. Although the strategies of the dog can be explained in the framework of reinforcement learning (Go et al. 2016), dogs may be trained by humans to perform the herding task (Rooney and Cowan 2011;Savalois et al. 2013;Greenebaum 2010). In the case of horses, a stallion chases mares to herd them (Krueger et al. 2014). ...
... Herding among horses is thought to be performed primarily by the stallion (Berger 1977;Feh 2005;Ransom and Cade 2009) for protection from other individuals/groups (Boyd and Keiper 2005;Waring 1983), for group cohesiveness with the aim of long-term social relationships with members of the group (Feh 2005), or to drive the group from a certain location for various reasons. Animals in the wild, like feral horses, naturally acquire the instinct to herd in the absence of human instruction, unlike many breeds of dogs, which are trained by humans (Rooney and Cowan 2011;Savalois et al. 2013;Greenebaum 2010). Herding is one event where movements of the mares and stallion are at the most dynamic stage. ...
Article
In animal groups, individual interactions achieve coordinated movements to maintain cohesion. In horse-harem groups, herding is a behaviour in which stallions chase mares from behind; it is considered to assist with group cohesiveness. The mechanisms of the group cohesion were studied using the methods of drone filming and video tracking during herding and two phases of interactions were found based on the mares’ timing of movement initiation. The study shows that mares that move first are those nearest to the stallion; while the movement initiation of the later mares is determined by the distance from the nearest moving mare. Thus, as a second step to the full understanding of group cohesion, we propose a mathematical model of mares herded by a harem stallion, which is a modification of a sheep model during shepherding. Our model is a linear combination of the five components: inertia, repulsion from the stallion, short-range repulsion, synchronisation attraction, and attraction to the centre of the group. We tune the parameters of our proposed models based on the data and successfully reproduce the movements and directional trends of the mares.
... Dogs from Group Reward showed a tendency to learn the cognitive bias task faster than dogs from Group Mixed. Similar findings were observed previously by Rooney et al. (2011) [37], who found a positive correlation between the reported use of reward-based training methods and a dog's ability to learn a novel task (touching a spoon with its nose). In another study, Marshall-Pescini et al (2008) [38] found that dogs with high-level training experience were more successful at opening a box to obtain food than dogs which had received either none or only basic training. ...
... Dogs from Group Reward showed a tendency to learn the cognitive bias task faster than dogs from Group Mixed. Similar findings were observed previously by Rooney et al. (2011) [37], who found a positive correlation between the reported use of reward-based training methods and a dog's ability to learn a novel task (touching a spoon with its nose). In another study, Marshall-Pescini et al (2008) [38] found that dogs with high-level training experience were more successful at opening a box to obtain food than dogs which had received either none or only basic training. ...
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Dog training methods range broadly from those using mostly positive punishment and negative reinforcement (aversive-based) to those using primarily positive reinforcement (reward-based). Although aversive-based training has been strongly criticized for negatively affecting dog welfare, there is no comprehensive research focusing on companion dogs and mainstream techniques, and most studies rely on owner-reported assessment of training methods and dog behavior. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the effects of aversive- and reward-based training methods on companion dog welfare within and outside the training context. Ninety-two companion dogs were recruited from three reward-based schools (Group Reward, n = 42), and from four aversive-based schools, two using low proportions of aversive-based methods (Group Mixed, n = 22) and two using high proportions of aversive-based methods (Group Aversive, n = 28). For evaluating welfare during training, dogs were video recorded for three sessions and six saliva samples were collected, three at home (baseline levels) and three after training (post-training levels). Video recordings were used to examine the frequency of stress-related behaviors (e.g., lip lick, yawn) and the overall behavioral state of the dog (e.g., tense, relaxed), and saliva samples were analyzed for cortisol concentration. For evaluating welfare outside the training context, dogs participated in a cognitive bias task. Results showed that dogs from Group Aversive displayed more stress-related behaviors, were more frequently in tense and low behavioral states and panted more during training, and exhibited higher post-training increases in cortisol levels than dogs from Group Reward. Additionally, dogs from Group Aversive were more ‘pessimistic’ in the cognitive bias task than dogs from Group Reward. Dogs from Group Mixed displayed more stress-related behaviors, were more frequently in tense states and panted more during training than dogs from Group Reward. Finally, although Groups Mixed and Aversive did not differ in their performance in the cognitive bias task nor in cortisol levels, the former displayed more stress-related behaviors and was more frequently in tense and low behavioral states. These findings indicate that aversive-based training methods, especially if used in high proportions, compromise the welfare of companion dogs both within and outside the training context.
... The unique triadic interaction of humans, dogs, livestock and sometimes handlers on horseback has been referred to as a 'mutually adjusted system' [8]. Insufficient or poor quality training may jeopardise dog and livestock welfare and compromise learning outcomes [9][10][11]. Investigations into handler-dog interactions during livestock herding training have focussed on moderating access to livestock through negative punishment (interrupting access to livestock) or positive reinforcement (allowing continued access to livestock) [5,12]. ...
... The value of eleven(11) working attributes across the four herding contexts. Respondents' ratings: A-utility; B-mustering; C-yard; D-trial. ...
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This study investigated the value that handlers and breeders assign to various behavioural traits in Australian livestock herding dogs. Data were obtained from 811 handlers and breeders through the ‘Australian Farm Dog Survey’. Respondents were asked to consider dogs within four contexts: utility (livestock herding in both paddocks and yards), mustering (livestock herding in paddocks and along livestock routes), yards (in and around sheds, sale-yards and transport vehicles), and trial (specifically a standard 3-sheep trial), and to rate the value of 16 working manoeuvres (movement sequences used in herding), 11 working attributes (skills or attributes used in herding) and five general attributes (personality traits ascribed to an individual dog). The most valued working manoeuvres were cast, force and gather. Bite, bark and backing were considered of little value in certain contexts, notably the trial context. Across all four contexts, the general attributes most valued in dogs were being trainable, motivated, confident and friendly, while control and trainability were the working attribute traits considered to be of most value. Excitability was revealed to be a ‘Goldilocks’ trait in that respondents preferred not too much or too little but a ‘just right’ amount in their preferred dog. Analysis indicated a handler preference for either specialised dogs for the utility context or dogs who are easy to work with because of a broad range of traits favoured in the yard context. These results reveal both generalities across and the need for specialisation within these four herding contexts. Further investigation may help to reveal how well handlers distinguish between innate and learnt behaviours when selecting and training livestock herding dogs. Identifying which group handlers fit into optimally may assist in selecting suitable dog–human dyads.
... Dog training methods differ widely between practitioners, with some using aversive-based methods, which utilize mainly negative reinforcement and positive punishment, and others using reward-based methods, which rely mainly on positive reinforcement and negative punishment (Guilherme-Fernandes et al., 2017), potentially affecting how dogs and humans interact with each other. Indeed, dogs trained with physical punishment played and interacted less with a novel person while in the owner's presence (Rooney and Cowan, 2011), and eye gaze towards the owner, a proposed indicator of dog-owner bond (Nagasawa et al., 2015), was observed more frequently in dogs trained with reward-based methods as compared to aversive-based methods (Deldalle and Gaunet, 2014). However, Rooney and Cowan (2011) used owner reports of training methods instead of directly assessing the methods employed, whereas eye gaze measure potentially confounds results, since many reward-based schools train dogs to gaze towards the owner (Deldalle and Gaunet, 2014). ...
... Indeed, dogs trained with physical punishment played and interacted less with a novel person while in the owner's presence (Rooney and Cowan, 2011), and eye gaze towards the owner, a proposed indicator of dog-owner bond (Nagasawa et al., 2015), was observed more frequently in dogs trained with reward-based methods as compared to aversive-based methods (Deldalle and Gaunet, 2014). However, Rooney and Cowan (2011) used owner reports of training methods instead of directly assessing the methods employed, whereas eye gaze measure potentially confounds results, since many reward-based schools train dogs to gaze towards the owner (Deldalle and Gaunet, 2014). ...
Article
The use of aversive-based training methods has been suggested to negatively affect dog-human attachment. However, the scientific evidence for this claim is relatively limited. Previous studies relied upon owner reports of training methods or on potentially confounded measures of attachment (e.g., eye gaze). The aim of the present study was to comprehensively and objectively investigate the relationship between aversive- and reward-based training methods and dog-owner attachment. Companion dogs (n = 34) recruited from 6 different dog training schools (3 reward-based and 3 aversive-based) were given a counterbalanced version of the Ainsworth Strange Situation Test. The presence and absence of the owner and a stranger in a room with the dog was manipulated over different episodes. Dogs’ behavior was then analyzed for attachment-related behaviors: contact-maintenance, separation-distress and secure-base effect, as well as following upon separation and greeting upon reunion. Results showed no significant differences between groups for contact-maintenance and separation distress behaviors. However, dogs trained with reward-based methods, but not dogs trained with aversive-based methods, played more in the presence of the owner than in the presence of the stranger, and they also followed and greeted the owner more than the stranger, although these differences were found for only one procedure order. Our study is the first to investigate the relationship between training methods and attachment using a standard and well-validated method for the assessment of dog-owner attachment.
... Where dog training involves aversive or noxious stimuli, this can lead to punishment if dogs do not behave as desired (1,2). A growing understanding of the application of learning theory to dog welfare has led many training organizations, welfare charities and academics to advocate what they consider to be more humane methods, with a greater focus on the use and timing of rewards (3)(4)(5)(6)(7)(8)(9). ...
... With good timing, these could result in negative reinforcement, although poor timing or imposition of the noxious stimuli in response to failure to perform the desired behavior would constitute a form of punishment. It has been frequently argued that the use of aversives in dog training results in poorer learning outcomes and poses greater welfare risks compared with largely reward based training (3)(4)(5)(6). Our results demonstrate through direct evidence from real life situations, that the reward-focused training was, indeed, more efficient than methods which included potentially aversive stimuli such as electric stimuli or excessive lead pressure. ...
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We assessed the efficacy of dog training with and without remote electronic collars compared to training with positive reinforcement. A total of 63 dogs with known off-lead behavioral problems such as poor recall were allocated to one of three training groups (each n = 21), receiving up to 150 min of training over 5 days to improve recall and general obedience. The 3 groups were: E-collar—manufacturer-nominated trainers who used electronic stimuli as part of their training program; Control 1—the same trainers following practices they would apply when not using electronic stimuli; and Control 2—independent, professional trainers who focused primarily on positive reinforcement for their training. Data collection focused on dogs' response to two commands: “Come” (recall to trainer) and “Sit” (place hindquarters on ground). These were the two most common commands used during training, with improving recall being the target behavior for the subject dogs. Measures of training efficacy included number of commands given to elicit the response and response latency. Control 2 achieved significantly better responses to both “Sit” and “Come” commands after a single instruction in the allocated time. These dogs also had shorter response latencies than the E-collar group. There was no significant difference in the proportion of command disobeyed between the three groups, although significantly fewer commands were given to the dogs in Control 2. There was no difference in the number of verbal cues used in each group, but Control 2 used fewer hand and lead signals, and Control 1 made more use of these signals than E-collar group. These findings refute the suggestion that training with an E-collar is either more efficient or results in less disobedience, even in the hands of experienced trainers. In many ways, training with positive reinforcement was found to be more effective at addressing the target behavior as well as general obedience training. This method of training also poses fewer risks to dog welfare and quality of the human-dog relationship. Given these results we suggest that there is no evidence to indicate that E-collar training is necessary, even for its most widely cited indication.
... Plasticity promotes curiosity, novelty seeking and the motivation to learn and achieve goals (Berlyne, 1960), shaping positive emotive states (Harding et al., 2004;Boissy et al., 2007;McGowan et al., 2014) thus, good welfare (Duncan, 2005). Dog-human interactivity using positive reinforcement may facilitate preparation for, and positive cognitive bias toward technological advancements (Rooney and Cowan, 2011;Starling et al., 2014;. ...
... In the absence of time to facilitate training to meet criteria for this project, a leading dog training club was contacted, and the resulting majority of participants were trained to levels well beyond the requirements for the experiment and therefore, did not necessarily represent the pet dog population in general. Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in this sample through breed specifics (Serpell and Duffy, 2014) and / or positive reinforcement training using food as a reward (Rooney and Cowan, 2011;Gergely et al., 2014) throughout puppyhood and into adulthood may have facilitated great adaptability (Taborsky and Oliveira (2012); Starling et al., 2014) and unusually high speeds of generalisation and performance. None of the dogs had any previous exposure to a food dispensing device or agent of this kind whatsoever and each of the dogs' responses were achieved within a one-hour, single timeframe. ...
Article
Human-canine communication technology for the home-alone domestic dog is in its infancy. Many criteria need to be fulfilled in order for successful communication to be achieved remotely via artificial agents. Notably, the dogs’ capacity for correct behavioural responses to unimodal verbal cues is of primary consideration. Previous studies of verbal cues given to dogs alone in the test room have revealed a deterioration in correct behavioural responses in the absence of a source of attentional focus and reward. The present study demonstrates the ability of domestic pet dogs to respond correctly to an artificial agent. Positioned at average human eye level to replicate typical human-dog interaction, the agent issues a recall sound followed by two pre-recorded, owner spoken verbal cues known to each dog, and dispenses food rewards for correct behavioural responses. The agent was used to elicit behavioural responses in three test conditions; owner and experimenter present; experimenter present; and dog alone in the test room. During the fourth (baseline) condition, the same cues were given in person by the owner of each dog. The experiments comprised a familiarisation phase followed by a test phase of the four conditions, using a counterbalanced design. Data recorded included latency to correct response, number of errors before correct response given and behavioural welfare indicators during agent interaction. In all four conditions, at least 16/20 dogs performed the correct recall, cue 1 response, and cue 2 response sequence; there were no significant differences in the number of dogs who responded correctly to the sequence between the four conditions (p = 0.972). The order of test conditions had no effect on the dogs’ performances (p = 0.675). Significantly shorter response times were observed when cues were given in person than from the agent (p = 0.001). Behavioural indicators of poor welfare recorded were in response to owners leaving the test room, rather than as a direct result of agent interaction. Dogs left alone in the test room approached and responded correctly to verbal cues issued from an artificial agent, where rapid generalisation of learned behaviours and adjustment to the condition was achieved.
... Warmth was operationalised by smiling and speaking with a high-pitched friendly tone of voice. In another study dogs interacted less during play sessions with their owners, if the owners reported to use choke chains or pinch collars, the squirting of water in the dog's face, the rubbing of the dog's nose in faeces, yanking the dog back, lifting the dog using the collar, flicking on the dog's ear, and/or shaking the dog (Rooney & Cowan, 2011). A final example was in 43% of owners reporting their dogs to respond by growling, baring teeth, snapping, lunging or biting if the owners confronted undesired dog behaviour by hitting or kicking (Herron et al., 2009). ...
... Also, presently few studies seem to address owner-dog interactions outside the setting of the dog's training. This is surprising as the concept of owner-dog interactions is broad and includes more than training (Rooney & Cowan, 2011), as described in the introduction. It also identifies a gap in current science. ...
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Dogs need to adapt to a human environment to enhance their welfare and to avoid risks of undesired dog behaviour and relinquishment. Crucial to this adaptation may be how an owner interacts with the dog. Owner–dog interactions may be influenced by the human caregiving system with regard to how care, protection and resources are provided. This narrative review discusses how a consideration of the human caregiving system can benefit owner–dog interactions. Literature suggests that the human caregiving system and parenting styles could influence owner–dog interactions. Owner–dog education may improve these interactions. However, studies on owner–dog education present mixed outcomes for the dog. Also, only a few studies address owner outcomes, indicating a gap that needs filling. It is concluded that, when intervening in owner–dog interactions, more attention should be directed to aspects of human psychology. Dog-directed parenting styles can form one strategy as to improve owner–dog interactions and dog welfare.
... Our results are contrary to studies in dogs where dogs trained with PosRe seek more contact with the owner than the stranger during both reunion (Vieira de Castro et al., 2019) and during training situations (Deldalle and Gaunet, 2014) compared to dogs trained with NegRe. Similar to our results though, dogs trained with aversive methods are less likely to interact with strangers (Rooney and Cowan, 2011). ...
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Humans have shared a long history with horses and today we mainly consider horses as companions for sports and leisure activities. Previously, the human perspective of the human-horse relationship has been investigated but there has been little focus on the horse’s perspective. This study aimed to reveal whether horses show attachment-related behaviour towards the owner compared to a stranger in a modified Strange Situation Procedure (SSP) consisting of a walking phase, a standing still phase, separation from the owner/stranger and lastly a reuinon. We tested 26 privately owned horses in an indoor experimental area of 20 × 14 m. In addition to testing, the owners were asked questions about their training methods. Based on these questionnaire results, owners were divided into groups depending on whether they mainly used negative reinforcement, positive reinforcement or a combination of both methods during training. They also completed a horse personality questionnaire. The results showed that the horses spent more time in door proximity when separated from the owner and the stranger (owner: Z = −3.46, P = 0.001; stranger: Z = 3.40, P = 0.001) compared to the reunion phase, and they sought human proximity during reunion. The horses’ heart rates were higher during the separation compared to the reunion with both the owner (Z = −3.44, P = 0.001) and the stranger (Z = −2.40, P = 0.016). These results are examples of attachment-related features and suggest that horses consider both the owner and the stranger as a safe haven. However, the results are not clear as to whether or not horses perceive their owners as a secure base since their exploratory behaviour during owner reunion was similar to that during stranger reunion. Interestingly, horses trained with positive reinforcement spent most time in door proximity during separation from the stranger (χ²(2) = 6.18, P = 0.045) and similarly there was a tendency also during owner separation (χ²(2) = 5.20, P = 0.074). The same group of horses also spent more time in stranger proximity (χ²(2) = 6.16, P = 0.046) and in physical contact with stranger (χ²(2) = 8.62, P = 0.013) than the other two training style groups during reunion. When correlating scores from the horse personality questionnaire with behaviours during owner reunion, we found few significant associations, but the trait Inquisitive correlated with both proximity to owner and ears forward (rs = 0.41, P = 0.035 and rs = 0.49, P = 0.011, respectively), and ears forward also correlated with the trait Excitability (rs = 0.39, P = 0.047) and Dominance (rs = 0.46, P = 0.019). Hence, this study revealed attachment-related behaviours of horses towards humans even though the results cannot resolve whether these fulfil all criteria for an attachment-bond.
... Incorporating training principles, primarily through the use of positive reinforcement, has been broadly and successfully used in practice for zoo and companion animals to improve handling by reducing the aversiveness of some procedures [dog (126), cat (127), horse (63), primates (128)]. Training is not yet commonly used in farm settings despite proof of its effectiveness in research settings [pig (129,130), sheep (131), cattle]. ...
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Domestic animals often seek and enjoy interacting with humans. Positive human-animal relationships can elicit positive emotions and other positive welfare outcomes. Nevertheless, our understanding of the underlying processes that govern the positive perception of humans by animals is incomplete. We cover the potential mechanisms involved in the development and maintenance of positive human-animal relationships from the perspective of the animal. This encompasses habituation, associative learning, and possibly attachment or bonding based on communication and social cognition. We review the indicators from the literature to assess a positive human-animal relationship. We operationally define this positive relationship as the animal showing voluntary approach and spatial proximity (seeking) and signs of anticipation, pleasure, relaxation, or other indicators of a rewarding experience from interacting with the human. For research, we recommend accounting for the baseline human-animal relationship in the animal's everyday life, and incorporating a control treatment rather than only comparing positive to negative interaction treatments. Furthermore, animal characteristics, such as previous experience, genetics, and individual predisposition, as well as contextual characteristics related to the social and physical environment, may modulate the perception of humans by animals. The human-animal relationship is also influenced by human characteristics, such as the person's familiarity to the animal, attitudes, skills, and knowledge. We highlight implications for current practices and suggest simple solutions, such as paying attention to the animal's behavioral response to humans and providing choice and control to the animal in terms of when and how to interact with humans. Practical applications to achieve a positive perception of humans could be better utilized, such as by incorporating training principles, while keeping in mind trust and safety of both partners. Overall, there is growing evidence in the scientific literature that a positive human-animal relationship can bring intrinsic rewards to the animals and thereby benefit animal welfare. Further research is needed on the underlying processes to establish an effective positive human-animal relationship, especially in regard to the type, frequency, and length of human interaction necessary. In particular, the importance of providing animals with a sense of agency over their interactions with humans remains poorly understood.
... The dog will repeat the behavioral response to the specific stimulus that leads to the higher benefit [83,84]. The latter may increase aggressiveness and fear and should therefore be avoided [25,83,85]. Reinforcements are associated with improved abilities to learn [25,86]. ...
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Human remains detection dogs (HRDDs) are powerful police assets to locate a corpse. However, the methods used to select and train them are as diverse as the number of countries with such a canine brigade. First, a survey sent to human remains searching brigades (Ncountries = 10; NBrigades = 16; NHandlers = 50; Nquestions = 9), to collect their working habits confirmed the lack of optimized selection and training procedures. Second, a literature review was performed in order to outline the strengths and shortcomings of HRDDs training. A comparison between the scientific knowledge and the common practices used by HRDDs brigade was then conducted focusing on HRDDs selection and training procedures. We highlighted that HRDD handlers select their dogs by focusing on behavioral traits while neglecting anatomical features, which have been shown to be important. Most HRDD handlers reported to use a reward-based training, which is in accordance with training literature for dogs. Training aids should be representative of the odor target to allow a dog to reach optimal performances. The survey highlighted the wide diversity of homemade training aids, and the need to optimize their composition. In the present document, key research topics to improve HRDD works are also provided.
... A positive attitude and positive handling increase the willingness of dogs to approach an unknown person (Arhant et al. 2014). In contrast, aversive training methods are instead correlated with aggressive or fearful dog behaviour toward humans (Hiby et al. 2004, Herron et al. 2009, Arhant et al. 2010) and, consequently, the animals are less interacting with strangers (Rooney and Cowan 2011). In addition, exploration of an unknown person by dogs can be considered as a positive emotional response and an indicator of dogs' good welfare (Boissy et al. 2007, Araujo et al. 2010. ...
Article
The Italian National Law on companion animals and stray dog population control prohibits euthanasia of shelter dogs if they are not dangerous or seriously suffering. Free roaming dogs are captured and housed in long-term shelters (LTS) until rehomed, adopted or dead. In this scenario, the sheltered dogs' welfare has become a community of scientific interest but few information is available about the human sphere in dogs' shelters. The aim of this study was to evaluate the social relationship between dogs and shelter operators (employees and volunteers) in Italian shelters and the impact of their job on their quality of life. A questionnaire addressed to shelter operators was developed by a multidisciplinary group of experts and it was structured in three main sections: general information, operators' skills and operators' welfare and emotional sphere. The questionnaire was distributed in 64 Italian shelters during the field application of the Shelter Quality protocol for the assessment of dogs' welfare in LTS (IZS 04/13 RC funded by Ministry of Health) that was used to assess the welfare of dogs housed in LTS. A descriptive analysis was carried out. These results show that Italian shelter operators have a positive perception of their job despite a stressful impact on their lives.
... the use of operant conditioning, and within this, mainly on the association of positive reinforcement and positive punishment with the occurrence of behaviour problems. There is data to date supporting a positive correlation between the use of aversive communication styles (primarily positive punishment, i.e. the addition of something aversive that leads to a decrease in the unwanted behaviour) and the occurrence of behaviour problems, both in humans [17][18][19] and in dogs [20][21][22][23][24][25] . As positive punishment is perceived as "aversive", it is thought to lead to high levels of arousal and negative emotions in the canine recipient 22,26 . ...
Article
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Sensory Processing Sensitivity (SPS) is a personality trait in humans characterised by a tendency to process information deeply, to be easily overstimulated, and to have strong emotional responses and an enhanced sensitivity to subtle stimuli. A trait similar to SPS has recently been identified in dogs (“canine Sensory Processing Sensitivity”, cSPS). In children, this trait interacts with parenting factors to influence emotional and mental development, which in turn are linked to behaviour problems. Paralleling these findings in humans, we demonstrate that cSPS interacts with owner personality and use of aversive communication to influence the likelihood of behaviour problems in dogs. More behaviour problems were reported for more highly sensitive dogs per se, when there was a relative mismatch between owner and dog personality, and when use of “negative punishment” was reported. These findings indicate that a dog’s personality might moderate how an individual is affected by environmental factors, particularly owner personality and communication style, emphasising the importance of considering individuality in prevention, development and treatment of behaviour problems in dogs.
... In doing so, the dog must, together with the handler, continually adjust to both the livestock and environment. Inadequate training has the potential to compromise the welfare of both dog and livestock [4][5][6][7]. Previous studies have shown the influence of animal handling techniques on both the behaviour and physiology of sheep [8,9]. ...
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Livestock herding dogs are crucial contributors to Australian agriculture. However, there is a dearth of empirical studies of the behavioural interactions between dog and livestock during herding. A statistical approach that may reveal cause and effect in such interactions is lag sequential analysis. Using 48 video recordings of livestock herding dogs and sheep in a yard trial competition, event-based (time between behaviours is irrelevant) and time-based (time between behaviours is defined) lag sequential analyses identified several significant behavioural interactions (adjusted residuals greater than 2.58; the maximum likelihood-ratio chi-squared statistic for all eight contingency tables identified all sequences as highly significant (p < 0.001)). These sequences were: The dog ceasing all movement followed by the sheep also ceasing movement; the dog chasing the sheep and a group of sheep escaping the main flock; a single sheep escaping the flock and the dog chasing; sheep initiating movement followed by the dog following; foot-stamping followed by the dog ceasing all movement; and, foot-stamping by the sheep and the dog lip-licking in response. Log linear regression identified significant relationships among undesirable behaviours in sheep and both observed trial duration (p = 0.001) and trial score (p = 0.009). No differences in the herding styles of dogs were identified between sex of dog and frequency of sheep escape behaviours (p = 0.355) nor the sex of dog and competition level (p = 0.116). The identification of trial score as a predictor of efficient performance confirms the benefits of incorporating extant objective measures to assess livestock herding dogs.
... Dogs are trained in many different ways and for many different reasons, including agility training, obedience training, and other forms of special-purpose trainings, in which a precise following of the trainer's behavior is the rule (Clark & Boyer, 1993). The link between the human-dog relationship and the dog's education is confirmed by the fact that reward-based training improves a dog's subsequent ability to learn (Rooney & Cowan, 2011). ...
Article
Dogs have not only shown different kinds of social learning, from either conspecifics or humans, including do-as-I-do imitation, deferred imitation, and selective imitation, but in two previous studies they have also shown an eagerness to copy causally irrelevant actions. This so-called overimitation is prevalent in humans but is totally absent in great apes. Whereas in one of two previous studies dogs copied actions from an experimenter (Johnston, Holden, & Santos in Developmental Science, 20, e12460, 2017), in the other a reasonable number of the dogs copied the irrelevant actions from their human caregiver (Huber, Popovová, Riener, Salobir, & Cimarelli in Learning & Behavior, 46, 387–397, 2018). Dogs have not only been domesticated to live and work with us, but many companion dogs develop strong affiliative relationships with their caregiver, which are akin to the attachment bonds between human children and their mother. We therefore assumed that overimitation in dogs might be strongly motivated by social factors, such as affiliation or conformity. To test this hypothesis, we confronted dogs with the same demonstration of causally relevant and irrelevant actions as in the previous study (Huber et al. in Learning & Behavior, 46, 387–397, 2018), but this time with an unfamiliar experimenter instead of the caregiver as the demonstrator. The results strongly supported our hypothesis: Whereas half of the subjects in the previous study replicated the causally irrelevant action demonstrated by their caregiver, only very few did so when the actions were demonstrated by the experimenter. We conclude that the eagerness of dogs to learn from humans and to copy even unnecessary actions is strongly facilitated by their relationship with the particular human.
... In canids, including the coyote, fox, and wolf, flattened ears are also observed in frightening situations 71 . In dogs, flattened ears are often considered to be part of a submissive display [72][73][74] and interpreted as a sign of fear 73,75 . In a study with silver foxes that were trained in a Pavlovian conditioning paradigm to associate a bell sound with either a predictable food reward (a piece of salmon), an unpredictable reward (food related: dog treats, cattle humerus, salmon; or not food related: tennis ball or wooden stick), or a negative predictable treatment (an aversive stimulus: being captured by grabbing the neck), flat and backwards rotated ears were seen when anticipating the negative predictable treatment but also the positive unpredictable reward 58 . ...
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Facial expressions are considered sensitive indicators of emotional states in humans and many animals. Identifying facial indicators of emotion is a major challenge and little systematic research has been done in non-primate species. In dogs, such research is important not only to address fundamental and applied scientific questions but also for practical reasons, since many problem behaviours are assumed to have an emotional basis, e.g. aggression based on frustration. Frustration responses can occur in superficially similar contexts as the emotional state of positive anticipation. For instance, the anticipated delivery of a food reward may induce the state of positive anticipation, but over time, if the food is not delivered, this will be replaced by frustration. We examined dogs’ facial expressions in contexts presumed to induce both positive anticipation and frustration, respectively, within a single controlled experimental setting. Using DogFACS, an anatomically-based method for coding facial expressions of dogs, we found that the “Ears adductor” action was more common in the positive condition and “Blink”, “Lips part”, “Jaw drop”, “Nose lick”, and “Ears flattener” were more common in the negative condition. This study demonstrates how differences in facial expression in emotionally ambiguous contexts may be used to help infer emotional states of different valence.
... Although dogs show tameness and strong attachment to humans in contrast to their wild ancestors, unwanted behaviours (e.g., excessive aggression, separation anxiety) still occur that affect the welfare of dogs, owners and the public (Rooney and Bradshaw 2014;Casey et al. 2014;Roth et al. 2016). Numerous studies have been performed with the aim of identifying non-genetic risk factors for the occurrence of unwanted behaviours, such as living conditions and demographic factors (Haverbeke et al. 2008;Blackwell et al. 2008;Rooney and Cowan 2011;McGreevy et al. 2013;Deldalle and Gaunet 2014;Tiira and Lohi 2015;Serpell and Duffy 2016), but few studies have considered the role of genetic factors in the management of problem behaviours. A better understanding of the genetic basis of dog behaviour may also inform breeding programmes for working dogs, e.g., guide dogs (Goddard and Beilharz 1982). ...
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A favourable genetic structure and diversity of behavioural features highlights the potential of dogs for studying the genetic architecture of behaviour traits. However, behaviours are complex traits, which have been shown to be influenced by numerous genetic and non-genetic factors, complicating their analysis. In this study, the genetic contribution to behaviour variation in German Shepherd dogs (GSDs) was analysed using genomic approaches. GSDs were phenotyped for behaviour traits using the established Canine Behavioural Assessment and Research Questionnaire (C-BARQ). Genome-wide association study (GWAS) and regional heritability mapping (RHM) approaches were employed to identify associations between behaviour traits and genetic variants, while accounting for relevant non-genetic factors. By combining these complementary methods we endeavoured to increase the power to detect loci with small effects. Several behavioural traits exhibited moderate heritabilities, with the highest identified for Human-directed playfulness, a trait characterised by positive interactions with humans. We identified several genomic regions associated with one or more of the analysed behaviour traits. Some candidate genes located in these regions were previously linked to behavioural disorders in humans, suggesting a new context for their influence on behaviour characteristics. Overall, the results support dogs as a valuable resource to dissect the genetic architecture of behaviour traits and also highlight the value of focusing on a single breed in order to control for background genetic effects and thus avoid limitations of between-breed analyses.
... Studies of aversive training versus reward-based and force-free training have demonstrated that confrontational methods like "alpha rolls," staring down a dog, or grabbing and shaking the dog has resulted in dogs responding with aggressive behaviors (Herron et al. 2009). Additionally, harsh punishment affects dogs' behaviors negatively, hindering ability to learn-while conversely, dogs' ability to learn and playfulness both increase when non-confrontational methods are used (Rooney and Cowan 2011). Aside from the goal for inmates to be less aggressive, using force-free training techniques provides alternative methods for obtaining desired results. ...
... Studies of aversive training versus reward-based and force-free training have demonstrated that confrontational methods like "alpha rolls," staring down a dog, or grabbing and shaking the dog has resulted in dogs responding with aggressive behaviors (Herron et al. 2009). Additionally, harsh punishment affects dogs' behaviors negatively, hindering ability to learn-while conversely, dogs' ability to learn and playfulness both increase when non-confrontational methods are used (Rooney and Cowan 2011). Aside from the goal for inmates to be less aggressive, using force-free training techniques provides alternative methods for obtaining desired results. ...
Chapter
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This chapter begins with a review of prison-based animal programs (PAPs), with an emphasis on the welfare of dogs being cared for and trained in corrections contexts. Next, it explores various methods for engaging in the compassionate and humane care and training of dogs for adoption or service animal work, without any exploitation. For example, program organizers need to understand canine communication, including animal body language and stress signals, as well as basic dog behavior and force-free training techniques. The chapter concludes with best practice recommendations for dog rehabilitation and training programs within correctional facilities. Overall, administrators and trainers must manage the unique needs of innovative programs that incorporate another sentient being into the milieu.
... Therefore, whether or not future researchers prefer to use a clicker is less important than having a straightforward training plan with clear performance criteria and without losing sight of the main objective, which is to keep the dog motivated and eager to learn. Above all, the use of reward-based training appears to be the most beneficial system in terms of both the training objectives and the dogs' welfare, since it is linked to enhanced learning and a balanced, healthy dog-scientist relationship (Rooney & Cowan, 2011). In contrast, the use of aversive-based methods is correlated with indicators of compromised welfare in dogs-that is, stress-related behaviors during training and problematic behaviors such as fear and aggression (Beerda, Schilder, van Hooff, & de Vries, 1997;Fernandes, Olsson, & de Castro, 2017;Hiby, Rooney, & Bradshaw, 2004). ...
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In recent years, two well-developed methods of studying mental processes in humans have been successively applied to dogs. First, eye-tracking has been used to study visual cognition without distraction in unrestrained dogs. Second, noninvasive functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has been used for assessing the brain functions of dogs in vivo. Both methods, however, require dogs to sit, stand, or lie motionless while yet remaining attentive for several minutes, during which time their brain activity and eye movements are measured. Whereas eye-tracking in dogs is performed in a quiet and, apart from the experimental stimuli, nonstimulating and highly controlled environment, MRI scanning can only be performed in a very noisy and spatially restraining MRI scanner, in which dogs need to feel relaxed and stay motionless in order to study their brain and cognition with high precision. Here we describe in detail a training regime that is perfectly suited to train dogs in the required skills, with a high success probability and while keeping to the highest ethical standards of animal welfare—that is, without using aversive training methods or any other compromises to the dog’s well-being for both methods. By reporting data from 41 dogs that successfully participated in eye-tracking training and 24 dogs IN fMRI training, we provide robust qualitative and quantitative evidence for the quality and efficiency of our training methods. By documenting and validating our training approach here, we aim to inspire others to use our methods to apply eye-tracking or fMRI for their investigations of canine behavior and cognition.
... be determined; each are equally plausible, despite the tendency for these authors to emphasize the possible role of punishment in the development of behavior problems. That said, it is worth noting that there is evidence that pet dogs that receive more rewards and less punishment during training, and with owners who play more with them, perform better at learning a novel task and are more obedient (Rooney & Cowan, 2011). Another study has compared the behavior of pet dogs trained at a school that used aversives extensively (pulled on the leash or physically forced to sit until responding as desired to a command) with one school that focused on positive reinforcement (rewarded with food or praise after a correct behavioral response); they reported that the latter dogs showed increased attentiveness toward their owner, but there was no effect on avoidance behavior (Deldalle & Gaunet, 2014), thus differences in performance may relate to differences in attention rather than the efficiency of positive versus negative reinforcement. ...
Article
Scent detection dogs are used in a variety of contexts; however, very few dogs successfully complete their training, and many others are withdrawn from service prematurely due to both detection accuracy issues in the field and wider behavioral issues. This article aims to review our understanding of the factors affecting variation in scent detection dogs' learning of the tasks and performance in the field. For this we deconstructed the scent detection task into its key behavioral elements and examined the literature relating to the factors affecting variation in the dogs' success all across their development. We first consider factors that affect individuality and individual performance, in general, such as temperament, arousal, the handler-dog relationship, training regimes, and the housing and management of scent detections dogs. We then focus on tasks specific to scent detection dogs and critically appraise relevant literature relating to the learning and performance of these tasks by dogs. This includes prenatal and early life exposure and later environment, training regime, and the human-dog relationship, as well as performance limiting factors such as the need to pant in hot environments during work.
... While 75% of organizations in both groups had formal written policies on acceptable/unacceptable training methods for use with therapy dogs, a surprising number of Group 1 and 2 organizations (25 and 40%, respectively) did not explicitly disallow coercive training aids (e.g., choke collars, prong collars, e-collars, etc.) or the use of positive punishment by handlers. While the lack of any formal prohibition does not necessarily imply that therapy dog handlers are using aversive training methods in practice, it is concerning that such a large proportion of these ostensibly dog-friendly organizations are failing to require humane handling and training by volunteer handlers, given abundant evidence of the extent to which aversive or punishment-based training can harm canine welfare and learning ability, as well as the owner-dog bond (34)(35)(36)(37). ...
Article
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Organizations that deliver animal-assisted interventions (AAIs), as well as those that train, evaluate, and register therapy dogs, have proliferated in recent decades in the United States (U.S.). Each of these organizations has its own policies and procedures for screening, evaluating, and instructing dogs and their owners/handlers, but little is currently known about the range of different practices that exist nationwide. The aim of this project was to survey a representative, national sample of U.S. therapy dog organizations to investigate commonalities and differences in the types of practices in current use and to compare these to recommendations in existing published guidelines. The findings suggest the need for further research, and highlight a number of areas relating to dog welfare, human safety, and infection control in which many organizations were inconsistent in their adherence to existing guidelines. Of particular concern with regard to animal welfare was the finding that approximately half of the organizations surveyed imposed no time limit on the length of visits. Also, given the potential for zoonotic disease transmission, the finding that only a small minority of organizations prohibit the feeding of raw meat diets and treats to visiting dogs is concerning. This information will help to raise awareness among facilities with therapy animal programs and assist in the development of future best practices within the therapy dog industry.
... Furthermore, it is possible that elephants managed under different training styles may vary in their cognitive abilities or performance on tasks. Recent research with domestic dogs has suggested that positivereinforcement-only training leads to increased cognitive performance on novel tasks (Haverbeke, Laporte, Depiereux, Giffroy, & Diederich, 2008;Rooney & Cowan, 2011). Also, a recent replication of elephant numerical ability suggests that there may be a difference between protected-contact and free-contact trained animals. ...
Article
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The current study tested six Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) on a means-end behavioral task of pulling a support to retrieve a distant object; a systematic replication of the Irie-Sugimoto et al. (2008) study. The paradigm was somewhat modified from the original research to accommodate a protected contact setting, reduce the total number of trials, and one condition was excluded. Each elephant was tested on three conditions of increasing difficulty. Specifically, subjects were asked to select from a choice of two trays where one intact tray was baited with a highly-valued produce item and the other was A) empty; B) baited adjacent to the tray; and C) baited on the far side of a break in the tray. Results indicated that the elephants met or exceeded the criteria established for conditions A and B, but performed at chance levels on condition C. These data are contrasted with those of the original study where one elephant met criteria for all three conditions. We discuss potentially relevant variables affecting performance including differences in visual access to the trays, motivation levels, and training style.
... Lindsay [15] and Rajecki et al. [16] suggest that owners use punishments when problem behaviours are ascribed to internal motivations, e.g., an internal emotional drive, such as spite. As punishment-based training methods are implicated in poor canine welfare [17][18][19], understanding factors linked to canine emotional attributions is therefore potentially important in identifying dogs at risk of poor welfare. ...
Article
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Assumptions about dogs’ personality are influenced by their appearance, which may lead to differences in ownership styles and subsequent canine welfare. The influence of canine appearance on observers’ emotion attributions to dogs remains largely unexplored. This study investigated whether canine head shape is related to how both dog owners and non-dog owning adults in the U.K. attribute emotions to still images of dogs, and in the case of dog owners, to their own dogs. Attachment, respondent personality and dog trainability were assessed as potential influences on emotional attribution in owners. Overall, 2451 participant responses were received. Still images of mesocephalic dogs were attributed primary and positively valenced emotion with more strength and frequency than other groups. Mesocephalic images were also attributed negatively valenced emotions less frequently and with less strength than other groups. Apart from empathy, no significant differences were found in emotional attribution to owned dogs of different head shapes; however, human personality influenced attribution of emotions to owned dogs. The finding that some dogs are attributed emotions more readily based on their appearance alone has applied importance, given, for example, the potential for misattribution of positive emotions to dogs in negative emotional states, and potential prejudice against dogs considered in negative emotional states.
... Craig (1918) framed anticipation within a pleasure cycle, representing dopamine dependent anticipatory ('wanting'/positive reward seeking), consummatory ('liking') and satiety (learning) phases (Cabanac, 1992;Sapolsky, 1994;Berridge and Kringelbach, 2011;Schultz, 2015;Cook et al., 2016;Csoltova and Mehinagic, 2020). It is perhaps unsurprising therefore, that positive reinforcement training and interaction (Pet Professional Guild, 2022) has resulted in dogs' attentiveness to owners (Deldalle and Gaunet, 2014), strong dog-owner bonds (de Castro et al., 2019) and better performance at novel training tasks than dogs trained using aversive methods (Rooney and Cowan, 2011); as Cabanac (1992) stated, 'Pleasant is useful'. ...
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Domestic pet dogs typically spend a large amount of time inside the home environment, including hours alone. An audio/food dispensing automated device (an artificial agent, hereafter agent) was evaluated for enrichment potential. The agent issued owner-spoken verbal cues to dogs, and food rewards for correct behavioural responses. The dogs’ welfare during interaction was examined using Qualitative Behavioural Assessment (QBA), and results were compared with quantitative behavioural measurements. QBA is a ‘whole animal’ measure, which describes and quantifies the emotionally expressive quality of an animal’s demeanour in a specific context, using descriptive terms such as ‘excited’ or ‘curious’. Adult pet domestic dogs (n = 17) were observed in two experimental conditions: 1) Agent; researcher and owner present (A+RO); 2) Agent; researcher and owner absent (A-RO). The agent was remotely triggered to call each dog by name and issue up to four repeated, randomised and previously trained verbal cues e.g., ‘spin’, ‘roll’, ‘sit’, ‘up’ (maximum 16 cues). In a baseline condition (Owner; researcher and agent present) (O+RA) the dog’s owner replaced the agent’s role. QBA using a fixed list of 20 descriptors was performed by three observers for each dog in each condition, using video recordings (51 clips) and Principal Component Analysis (PCA) applied. QBA principal component 1 (PC1) was the same in all conditions, characterising dogs as ranging from ‘attentive/interested/anticipating’ to ‘conflicted/apathetic’, with the majority of dogs at the former end. QBA PC2 revealed variability in dogs’ interactive styles, ranging from ‘calm/concentrating’ to ‘aroused/excited/persistent’ in agent conditions, and ‘calm/wary’ to ‘excited/aroused’ in baseline. Inter-observer agreement was high on all PCs (e.g., PC1 A+RO Kendall’s W = 0.88; PC1 A-RO W = 0.83; PC1 O+RA W = 0.77). Quantitative continuous behaviour sampling revealed no significant differences in state behaviour between conditions; ‘looking up’ (p = 0.494); ‘ears up’ (p = 0.662); ‘cued response behaviour’ (p = 0.630); these behaviour categories correlated significantly with QBA PC1 in each condition (average r = 0.800; r = 0.780; r = 0.793 respectively). Indicators of positive anticipation, sustained engagement, competence, and motivation were identified throughout testing and in all conditions. These findings suggest that positively reinforcing interactions with an agent or an owner are equally rewarding for dogs within the context of testing. This study is the first to assess welfare during interaction with an automated device and, using a novel application of QBA, suggests the overarching experience is pleasurable for dogs.
... Training procedures are presumed to be an important component for improving the interactions animals have with conspecifics and their human trainers. For instance, with companion animals, training procedures, including type of training method used, play an important role in decreasing aggression, minimizing problem behaviors, or otherwise promoting proper dog-dog and dog-human interactions (for examples, see Batt et al., 2008;Blackwell et al., 2008;China et al., 2020;Haug, 2008;Rooney & Cowan, 2011). Regardless, only a few studies in any animal setting have experimentally examined the effect of training procedures to promote social interactions that lead to enriched welfare outcomes. ...
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Husbandry training and environmental enrichment are both important advancements associated with current behavioral welfare practices. Additionally, the use of training procedures has been proposed as a form of enrichment, with the implication that training can produce beneficial behavioral welfare results. This paper examines the concept of training as enrichment through three distinct ways training procedures could enrich: (1) training facilitates enrichment usage, (2) training modifies interactions, conspecific or otherwise, and (3) training expands behavioral repertoires. Within each category, the paper focuses on past research that provides empirical support for training functioning as enrichment, as well as related areas of research that provide additional evidence. Previous studies support the claim that training is enriching, with additional research necessary to better understand how prevalent and under what conditions training procedures function as enrichment. Future training research should examine these potential enrichment effects, including methodology that allows for comparisons to traditional enrichment, the use of welfare diversity/variability indices, and the effects of learning on trainers and trainees alike.
... The mechanism underlying the potential influence of owners' personality on their dogs' behavior problems has yet to be clearly identified. Based on studies showing an association between owners' use of positive punishment and/or confrontational or aversive methods of behavioral control and behavior problems in dogs ( Rooney and Cowan, 2011 ), Dodman et al. (2018) hypothesized that the relationship between owner personality and the behavior of companion dogs might be mediated by the quality or style of the owner's interactions with the dog, particularly in the context of training. Their results provided little evidence in support of this hypothesis, suggesting that any potential influence of an owners' personality on his/her dog's behavior occurs via mechanisms other than training. ...
Article
Anxiety tends to aggregate in families, and families increasingly include companion animals, such as dogs. Based on previous research pointing to a 'personality fit' between humans and their companion dogs, this study explored the potential association between owners' trait anxiety and dogs' fear and anxiety-related behavior problems, while also testing for mediating and moderating factors. Two hypotheses previously proposed in the literature were here tested: that dogs may respond to their owners' anxiety directly through emotional contagion, or that owners' anxiety may affect dogs' indirectly via (a) owners' over-protectiveness-thereby restricting the dog's ability to familiarize itself with novel situations-or (b) their use of coercive dog-training methods. A cross-sectional approach was followed with use of an on-line questionnaire designed to measure owners' trait anxiety and dogs' fear and anxiety-related behavior problems, as well as owners' protective behavior, and dogs' emotional reactions to their owners' emotions (i.e., 'empathic trait'). Data were obtained from 1,172 self-identified dog owners. Results showed a significant positive correlation between owners' trait anxiety and the severity of their dogs' fear and anxiety-related behavior. No evidence was found for mediation of this relationship by owners' protective behavior or their use of coercive training methods. However, the results showed a marginally significant moderation effect above a particular score in dogs' 'empathic trait'. This study suggests that owners' trait anxiety is associated, to some extent, with the occurrence of dogs' fear and anxiety related behavior problems. The extent to which dogs exhibit an 'empathic trait' may explain the strength of this association.
... Recently, pet parenting styles have been identified among dog caretakers (van Herwijnen et al., 2018;Brubaker & Udell, in prep), and preliminary evidence suggest that there is likely a relationship between pet parenting style and dog-human attachment style. More broadly, positive factors within a human-dog relationship (such as play, positive reinforcement training, and lack of punishment) have been found to profoundly influence the human-dog bond, including correlations between attachment reported by the human caregiver and pro-social behaviors by the dog, dog training success, and reduced problem behaviors in dogs (Hiby et al., 2004;Rehn et al., 2013Rehn et al., , 2014Rehn et al., , 2017Rooney & Bradshaw, 2002;Rooney & Cowan, 2011). Therefore, with more research it may be possible to predict likely attachment outcomes for dog-human pairs based on parenting style and human behavior, and perhaps to educate humans on best practices for establishing a secure relationship with their dog, similar to the promotion of positive parenting practices when parenting human children. ...
Chapter
The capacity for dogs to form attachment bonds to humans has been recognized by scientists for over two decades. However, evaluations of dog-human attachment styles, including to what extent dogs experience attachment security with their human caregivers, are relatively new. In humans, the development of secure attachments is considered a predictor of social wellbeing and positive cognitive outcomes including future relationship success, persistence, mental wellbeing and executive functioning. A better understanding of dog-human attachment relationships could have important scientific and applied implications. Here we provide an overview of attachment research as it relates to the dog-human bond, and take a closer look at one experimental approach, the Secure Base Test (SBT), currently used to evaluate dog-human attachment styles.
... 'Positive reward-based' practices rely predominantly on positive and negative reinforcement, with a food reward often being used as the reinforcer (Chiandetti et al., 2016;Gillaspy et al., 2014;Gilis et al., 2012;Mills, 2005). It has even become a mainstream animal management and husbandry strategy, in that animals are being 'rewarded' for performing innate and necessary physiological functions, one example being rewarding dogs with food for excreting faeces and eliminating urine outdoors during house training (Rooney & Cowan, 2011). Meanwhile, any behaviour which is deemed undesirable is 'ignored', with no social communication, reminiscent of the emotionally unhealthy tactic of 'stonewalling' in human inter-personal relations described by Horan et al., (2015). ...
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In this paper, I examine the way humans interact with domestic companion animals, with a focus on 'positive reward-based training' methods, particularly for dogs. From a biosemiotic perspective, I discuss the role of animal training in today's society and examine what binary reward-based reinforcement schedules communicate, semiotically. I also examine the extent to which reward-based training methods promote better welfare, when compared to the more traditional methods which rely on aversive stimuli and punishment, if and when they are relied upon excessively. I conclude that when used as the primary means of communication, they have the potential to be detrimental to animal welfare, because the underlying social signal is control and resource dominance. As an alternative view to behaviourist-based learning theory and conditioning, I outline how enactivist theories of cognition support a semiotic approach to interspecific human-animal communication. I therefore propose a move toward a dynamic semiosis and mutual understanding based upon Peirce's phenomenology, resulting in a more balanced merging of Umwelten. The aim is to create rich and more complex semiospheres around humans and domestic animals, which allow for individual agency and autonomy.
... En adición con lo anterior, Jamieson et al. (2018) señalan que cuando un canino es manejado por una persona desconocida para el animal, existe más probabilidad de tener comportamientos indeseados causados por estrés, lo cual aumenta la distracción y afecta negativamente el rendimiento en la detección, e incluye una nueva variable de influencia en el perro de trabajo. Al ser el perro un animal social, su conducta puede verse alterada por elementos del entorno y la relación con el ser humano, independientemente del dispositivo que se esté utilizando para el aprendizaje (Herwijnen et al., 2018); en este sentido, deben tenerse en consideración aspectos como la experiencia previa del canino en tareas de entrenamiento (Marshall et al., 2009;Marshall et al., 2016), el método de refuerzo (Hiby et al., 2004;Rooney & Cowan, 2011) y el comportamiento del propietario o entrenador (Arhant et al., 2010). ...
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El entrenamiento de los caninos de trabajo emplea diversos mecanismos de condicionamiento, los cuales permiten un rendimiento posterior superior, contrarrestando el sistema de drogas ilícitas, las organizaciones criminales, los grupos armados organizados (GAO) y residuales (GAOr), garantizando la seguridad y convivencia ciudadana en Colombia. Por lo anterior, se propone un enfoque cualitativo empleando una revisión sistemática de la literatura, con el objetivo de analizar el rol de la tecnología y aparatos para adiestrar caninos detectores, entre los años 2000 y 2020 dentro de las bases de datos Scopus, Elsevier y Scielo. Como resultados, se observa un aumento en la producción de artículos entre los años 2000 y 2019 (pasando de seis artículos a 86, respectivamente). Además, dentro de las herramientas empleadas en los estudios se encuentran las cajas; clickers; collares electrónicos y carruseles, los cuales discriminan el olor, utilizando sistemas de refuerzo, con diferencias dependiendo del tipo de estudio, el número de animales y el objetivo de entrenamiento. Como conclusión, es necesario desarrollar prototipos adecuados según las necesidades de entrenamiento en cada contexto, continuando con estudios que integren efectivamente los estímulos y los sistemas de recompensa para impactar los resultados en el rendimiento del perro de trabajo.
... En adición con lo anterior, Jamieson et al. (2018) señalan que cuando un canino es manejado por una persona desconocida para el animal, existe más probabilidad de tener comportamientos indeseados causados por estrés, lo cual aumenta la distracción y afecta negativamente el rendimiento en la detección, e incluye una nueva variable de influencia en el perro de trabajo. Al ser el perro un animal social, su conducta puede verse alterada por elementos del entorno y la relación con el ser humano, independientemente del dispositivo que se esté utilizando para el aprendizaje (Herwijnen et al., 2018); en este sentido, deben tenerse en consideración aspectos como la experiencia previa del canino en tareas de entrenamiento (Marshall et al., 2009;Marshall et al., 2016), el método de refuerzo (Hiby et al., 2004;Rooney & Cowan, 2011) y el comportamiento del propietario o entrenador (Arhant et al., 2010). ...
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Over its fifty years of established existence beginning in 1967, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has expounded its consolidated and integrated model in political relations, economic developments, and cultural values. However, confronted by threats to global security, ASEAN has also faced the complex impacts of transnational narcotics trafficking (TransNT). The study uses grey literature as secondary data to illustrate the current situations of TransNT in Southeast Asia by way of examining drug trafficking starting from the original countries (Myanmar) through the transit points (Vietnam) to final destination countries (Malaysia). Besides reviewing more than four decades of collaboration, the paper analyses ASEAN’s milestones in building its cooperative mechanism and assesses its institutional framework for combatting TransNT with specific initiatives. The study notes the main barriers and practical challenges that constrain the process of regional cooperation. Some brief recommendations are also suggested for further research in the near future to enhance regional cooperation in combatting transnational crimes.
... The learning process further influences behavior through trial and error [2]. Dog owners intervene proactively in this process by enlisting the help of dog trainers to teach them how to reinforce desired behaviors and suppress unwanted behaviors through antecedent management and structured lessons [3,4]. Most agree that dog owners (guardians) who learn and employ best practices rooted in reward-based training for managing and preventing undesired behaviors in dogs establish a more trusting and prolonged relationship [5][6][7][8]. ...
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... These results suggest that the dog-handler interaction may have influenced the dogs' behaviours, either by the nature of the interaction itself and/or by the training method utilized in the programme (Rooney & Cowan, 2011). ...
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Background Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms include re-experiencing, avoidance, hyperarousal, and cognitive deficits, reflecting both emotional and cognitive dysregulation. In recent years, non-pharmacological approaches and specifically animal-assisted therapy have been shown to be beneficial for a variety of disorders such as Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and PTSD. However, little is mentioned in the literature about the reciprocal effects of the animal–human interaction. Objective To evaluate the effects of a one-year dog training programme on PTSD symptomatology in youngsters with PTSD and on dogs’ behaviour. Methods Fifty-three adolescents, previously exposed to interpersonal trauma, were clinically diagnosed with PTSD and assigned to a dog-training programme group (n = 30) and a control group (n = 23) that engaged in other training programmes (e.g. cooking, hairstyling, etc.). Both groups were evaluated at baseline and following 12-months by The Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale for DSM-5 in Children and Adolescents (CAPS-CA-5) and Beck-Depression Inventory (BDI). Additionally, we physiologically measured both emotional and attention dysregulation. Results Post-12-months training, a significant alleviation of PTSD symptomatology accompanied by lower depression severity was observed in the dog-training group, compared with a insignificant recovery in the control group. Furthermore, improved emotional and attentional regulation was observed in the dog-training group. Measuring the dogs’ behaviour revealed increased anxiety and decreased selective attention performance, which was inversely correlated with the beneficial effects observed in the dog-training programme group. Conclusions Our findings emphasize the role of emotional and attentional regulations on the dog–handler interface, as evidence-based support for the beneficial effects of the dog-training programme, as either a non-pharmacological intervention or as complementary to anti-depressants treatment of PTSD. Though pharmacological treatments increase the patients’ well-being by treating certain PTSD symptoms, our suggested dog-training programme seems to influence the PTSD diagnostic status, thus may be implemented in civilians and veterans with PTSD.
... Dogs learn from their caregiver in both active and passive manners. On the one hand, they are educated in direct, teaching-like manners of what to do and what not to do [14], which allows learning about rules, causally opaque actions and conventions. Especially if performed by the caregiver in an ostensive, teaching-like manner, dogs learn to obey and follow [15,16]. ...
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Overimitation, the copying of causally irrelevant or non-functional actions, is well-known from humans but completely absent in other primates. Recent studies from our lab have provided evidence for overimitation in canines. Previously, we found that half of tested pet dogs copied their human caregiver’s irrelevant action, while only few did so when the action was demonstrated by an unfamiliar experimenter. Therefore, we hypothesized that dogs show overimitation as a result of socio-motivational grounds. To test this more specifically, here we investigated how the relationship with the caregiver influenced the eagerness to overimitate. Given the high variability in the tendency to overimitate their caregiver, we hypothesized that not only familiarity but also relationship quality influences whether dogs faithfully copy their caregiver. For this purpose, on the one hand we measured the overimitation tendency (with the same test as in the two studies before) and on the other hand the relationship quality between the dogs and their caregivers. Although we found no significant correlation between the two test results, our data might suggest that, on average, dogs who overimitated seemed to show more referential and affiliative behaviours towards the owner than dogs who showed less or no copying of the irrelevant action. Notably, as a group, those dogs that showed the highest level of copying accuracy of the irrelevant action showed the highest level of gazing and synchronization towards the owner.
... Dogs learn from their caregiver in both active and passive manners. On the one hand, they are educated in direct, teaching-like manners of what to do and what not to do [14], which allows learning about rules, causally opaque actions, and conventions. Especially if performed by the caregiver in an ostensive, teaching-like manners, dogs learn to obey and follow [15,16]. ...
Preprint
Overimitation, the copying of causally irrelevant or non-functional actions, is well-known from humans but completely absent in other primates. Recent studies from our lab have provided evidence for overimitation in canines. Previously, we found that half of tested pet dogs copied their human caregiver's irrelevant action, while only few did so when the action was demonstrated by an unfamiliar experimenter. Therefore, we hypothesized that dogs show overimitation as a result of socio-motivational grounds. To test this more specifically, here we investigated how the relationship with the caregiver influenced the eagerness to overimitate. Given the high variability in the tendency to overimitate their caregiver, we hypothesized that not only familiarity, but also relationship quality influences whether dogs faithfully copy their caregiver. For this purpose, we measured on the one hand the overimitation tendency (with the same test as in the two studies before) and on the other hand the relationship quality between the dogs and their caregivers. Although not significant, results revealed that dogs who overimitated seemed to show more referential and affiliative behaviours towards the owner (like gazing, synchronization and greeting) than dogs who showed less or no copying of the irrelevant action. Possible reasons for these findings are discussed.
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There is growing interest in the value of assistance dogs, therapy dogs, and untrained pet dogs, for supporting children with specific needs. Research in this area focuses almost exclusively on the effect of dogs on child well-being and quality of life. The lack of research reporting the role of dog’s quality of life in this dynamic limits the development of best practice guidelines. Little attention has been paid to the risk from structured and unstructured exposures to children for dog’s quality of life to best protect the well-being of both parties and maximize the quality of interactions to enhance therapeutic effects. This systematic scoping review searched five databases to address the question “what is the risk from child-dog interactions to the quality of life of assistance, therapy and pet dogs?” The review identified that there is limited specific scientific investment in understanding the relationship between child-dog interactions and dog’s quality of life. Of the five relevant articles that were identified specifically addressing this issue, two looked at aspects relating to quality of life of dogs living in family homes, (1 = pet dogs, 1 = trained assistance dogs). The remaining three papers reported factors relevant to quality of life of trained dogs working in structured therapy sessions. Specific child-dog interactions may be important risk factors to consider in relation to dog’s quality of life, specifically interactions involving unprovoked child attention (e.g., rough contact), interactions and environmental predictability (e.g., meltdowns and recreation time), and child-initiated games (e.g., “dress up”). Identifying and monitoring the intensity and frequency of these interactions may be important for protecting dog’s quality of life in the therapeutic and home environment.
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There is public interest for the welfare of dogs that spend at least part of their lives housed in kennel facilities, such as working, shelter and sporting dogs. The impacts of living in environments that limit social, physical, and behavioral opportunities are generally well understood in other animals, such as livestock and zoo animals. Research exploring the effects of the kennel environment and its enrichment on the behavior and physiology of dogs is emerging. However, human perceptions concerning what is important to the welfare of kenneled dogs have been overlooked. What people believe is important will influence their behavior, with direct relation to care provided to animals and the underlying social license of related industries to operate. This study evaluated the perceived importance of specific kennel management practices relating to canine health, kennel facility design and routine, social interactions, and environmental enrichment. Over 2,000 self-selected adults completed a voluntary, internet-based questionnaire. Differences in beliefs and attitudes were identified based on kennel facility experience, employment role, age, and gender, highlighting potential areas of discordance that may contribute to occupational stress and staff turnover. The results also suggest that research findings published in the scientific literature may not be successfully translating into evidence-based changes in industry practice. Future models to assess animal welfare should include the critical dimension of human-animal interaction. The beliefs, attitudes, and consequent behaviors of people interacting with dogs housed in kennels will determine how living in captivity impacts upon the experiences and welfare of the resident dogs.
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Husbandry training and environmental enrichment are both important advancements associated with current behavioural welfare practices. Additionally, the use of training procedures has been proposed as a form of enrichment, with the implication that training can produce beneficial behavioural welfare results. This paper examines the concept of training as enrichment through three distinct ways training procedures could enrich: (i) training facilitates enrichment usage; (ii) training modifies interactions, conspecific or otherwise; and (iii) training expands behavioural repertoires. Within each category, the paper focuses on past research that provides empirical support for training functioning as enrichment, as well as related areas of research that provide additional evidence. Previous studies support the claim that training is enriching, with additional research necessary to better understand how prevalent and under what conditions training procedures function as enrichment. Future training research should examine these potential enrichment effects, including methodology that allows for comparisons to traditional enrichment, the use of welfare diversity/variability indices, and the effects of learning on trainers and trainees alike.
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We characterized the reward patterns of dogs’ owners for the expression of desired behaviors of their pets through a questionnaire made available online on a social media page for 7 days (responses from over 66,676 owners). The questions were related to the type and frequency of rewards that pet owners applied and what specific dogs’ behaviors were rewarded. Desired behaviors of dogs were frequently reported to be rewarded. Responding correctly to commands and playing with their own toys were behaviors reported to be rewarded more frequently by owners than eliminating in appropriate places, a behavior perceived commonly just later. Moreover, owners reported that they rewarded more frequently by petting and praising the dogs and less frequently by applying a combination of giving both food and toys to their dogs. Thus, dog owners commonly reward desired behaviors by petting and prasing the dogs, most likely because it is the most convenient reward to use. Moreover, rewarding is more common when dogs express desired behaviors more immediately perceived by owners, which has welfare implications for these companion animals.
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Livestock guarding dogs (LGDs) are used all over the world to help in carnivore conservation by mitigating human-wildlife conflict. In Namibia, LGDs are used in cheetah conservation to prevent depredation of stock and reduce retaliatory killings. However, behavioral problems in the dogs, such as chasing wildlife and harassing livestock, exist leading to poor dog performance and farmer dissatisfaction. In most other types of working dogs, behavior tests for suitability are reported and/or validated within the scientific literature. To date this has not been done for LGDs. In this paper, we design a composite behavioral test and a questionnaire to rate the dogs’ effectiveness as an LGD. This test was used on 14 LGDs, seven of which were operational and seven of which were being used as breeding stock. In total, 16 behavioral variables were measured. A Principal Components Analysis reduced these to five underlying personality traits: ‘Playfulness’, ‘Trainability’, ‘Independence’, ‘Sociability with people’ and ‘Reactivity’. When 14 dogs were tested three times, 20 days apart, the traits ‘Playfulness’, ‘Trainability’ and ‘Independence’ were found to be consistent. ‘Trainability’ was negatively correlated to dog age. Dogs with a higher ‘Trainability’ and lower ‘Reactivity’ showed a tendency to be rated as more effective by their herdsman. Dogs scoring higher for ‘Playfulness’ were more likely to be reported to harass stock, and dogs that chased a moving object under experimental conditions were generally rated higher for tendency to chase predator wildlife when working. This study suggests that there are personality attributes which can be measured and are consistent across time in LGDs. Several of these are linked to better performance in trained dogs. Whether these are predictive of later performance in untrained dogs, is yet to be ascertained.
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Parents raise children in consistent ways, and these parenting styles affect child wellbeing and societal adjustment. Recently, we identified such parenting styles in the owner–dog relationship. Dog owners of the authoritarian- correction orientated (AUC) type stand out for demandingness. Authoritative dog owners adopt either an intrinsic-value orientated style (AUI), of high responsiveness and attention to a dog’s needs, or an authoritative-training orientated style (AUT) of high demandingness and responsiveness in teaching a dog how to behave socially. The causes for dog owners to favor certain dog- directed parenting styles are presently unknown. Orientations toward animals could play a role, and these have previously been determined in dog owners, capsulizing views on dog ownership. A dominionistic orientation values the dog for its utility, a humanistic orientation humanizes dogs, and a protectionistic orientation acknowledges the dog’s species-specific interests. We wanted to know how these views on dog ownership are associated with dog-directed parenting styles. Therefore, orientations toward animals and dog-directed parenting styles were determined from dog-owner reports collected online (n = 518). The Likert-scale items regarding the orientations toward animals were grouped using data reduction techniques. The scores for our newly formed orientations were then rank correlated to the dog-directed parenting styles, with all scores expressed as percentages of the theoretical maximum. A dominionistic orientation was associated with AUC, indicating that combined demandingness and non-responsiveness in dog-directed parenting partly results from the owner’s perceived need to dominate the dog. A humanistic/protectionistic orientation was associated with AUI, suggesting that the combination of parenting responsiveness and relatively low demandingness is an outcome of humanizing dogs. These findings support the idea that orientations toward animals partly underlie dog-directed parenting styles and may constitute a starting point for guiding owners away from less favorable dog-directed parenting styles.
Chapter
Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) is highly heterogeneous at many levels, for example with regards to the setting itself, recipients of the intervention, species involved as therapy animals and their therapeutic potential. Dogs are the most commonly involved species in this work, and there may be good reasons for this beyond their availability. Some specific characteristics such as their cognitive and emotional capacities and biases, their evolutionary connection with humans, as well as a natural attraction and emotional connection between both species make dogs particularly suitable for AAT and many other forms of AAI. In this chapter, we elaborate on the significance of these characteristics and discuss the attributes required of an ideal dog working in this sort of context. Furthermore, we provide suggestions for strategies and approaches to optimally prepare, help, and support therapy dogs for and during their work in order to minimise risks, maximise therapeutic potential, and secure the well-being of all involved parties.
Chapter
With an increasing recognition of the importance of behavioral health, a growing number of shelters provide some type of behavioral treatment for animals in their care. This chapter describes a variety of specialized interventions ranging from basic training of behaviors intended to make shelter dogs more attractive to potential adopters to behavior modification programs designed to rehabilitate complex behavior problems, including intraspecific aggression, fearfulness, and excessive arousal. Studies of how changing shelter dogs’ behavior influences adopters continue to produce conflicting results, and little research exists on the effectiveness of behavior modification with shelter animals. More research is needed to determine which behavior problems in shelter dogs need treatment and what are the most efficient, effective ways to provide that treatment so shelters can make the best use of available resources to improve quality of life, increase adoptability, reduce length of stay, and place more animals successfully in loving homes.
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Historically, pet dogs were trained using mainly negative reinforcement or punishment, but positive reinforcement using rewards has recently become more popular. The methods used may have different impacts on the dogs’ welfare. We distributed a questionnaire to 364 dog owners in order to examine the relative effectiveness of different training methods and their effects upon a pet dog’s behaviour. When asked how they trained their dog on seven basic tasks, 66% reported using vocal punishment, 12% used physical punishment, 60% praise (social reward), 51% food rewards and 11% play. The owner’s ratings for their dog’s obedience during eight tasks correlated positively with the number of tasks which they trained using rewards (P < 0.01), but not using punishment (P = 0.05). When asked whether their dog exhibited any of 16 common problematic behaviours, the number of problems reported by the owners correlated with the number of tasks for which their dog was trained using punishment (P < 0.001), but not using rewards (P = 0.17). Exhibition of problematic behaviours may be indicative of compromised welfare, because such behaviours can be caused by—or result in—a state of anxiety and may lead to a dog being relinquished or abandoned. Because punishment was associated with an increased incidence of problematic behaviours, we conclude that it may represent a welfare concern without concurrent benefits in obedience. We suggest that positive training methods may be more useful to the pet-owning community
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It is often claimed that certain behavioral problems in domestic dogs can be triggered by the games played by dog and caregiver (owner). In this study, we examine possible links between the types of games played and dimensions of the dog-owner relationship that are generally considered to affect such problems. Fifty dog-owner partnerships were filmed during 3-min play sessions in which the owner was allowed to choose the games played. All partnerships then undertook a 1-hr test designed to measure elements of behavior commonly ascribed to "dominance" and "attachment." Principal components analysis of the data produced 2 dominance-related factors (Amenability and Confident Interactivity) and 4 factors describing aspects of attachment (Nonspecific Attention Seeking, Preference for Owner, Preference for Unfamiliar Person, and Separation-Related Behavior). Amenability, in particular, varied significantly between breeds. In the study, we then compared types of games played to each of these factors. Dogs playing rough-and-tumble scored higher for Amenability and lower on Separation-Related Behavior than did dogs playing other types of games. Dogs playing tug-of-war and fetch scored high on Confident Interactivity. Winning or losing these games had no consistent effect on their test scores. If the dog started the majority of the games, the dog was significantly less amenable and more likely to exhibit aggression. The results suggest that how dogs play reflects general attributes of their temperament and relationship with their owner. This study provides no evidence that games play a major deterministic role on dominance dimensions of dog-human relationships, but the results suggest that playing games involving considerable body contact may affect attachment dimensions.
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Behavioural effects of the use of a shock collar during guard dog training of German shepherd dogs were studied. Direct reactions of 32 dogs to 107 shocks showed reactions (lowering of body posture, high pitched yelps, barks and squeals, avoidance, redirection aggression, tongue flicking) that suggest stress or fear and pain. Most of these immediate reactions lasted only a fraction of a second. The behaviour of 16 dogs that had received shocks in the recent past (S-dogs) was compared with the behaviour of 15 control dogs that had received similar training but never had received shocks (C-dogs) in order to investigate possible effects of a longer duration. Only training sessions were used in which no shocks were delivered and the behaviour of the dogs (position of body, tail and ears, and stress-, pain- and aggression-related behaviours) was recorded in a way that enabled comparison between the groups. During free walking on the training grounds S-dogs showed a lower ear posture and more stress-related behaviours than C-dogs. During obedience training and during manwork (i.e. excercises with a would-be criminal) the same differences were found. Even a comparison between the behaviour of C-dogs with that of S-dogs during free walking and obedience exercises in a park showed similar differences. Differences between the two groups of dogs existed in spite of the fact that C-dogs also were trained in a fairly harsh way. A comparison between the behaviour during free walking with that during obedience exercises and manwork, showed that during training more stress signals were shown and ear positions were lower. The conclusions, therefore are, that being trained is stressful, that receiving shocks is a painful experience to dogs, and that the S-dogs evidently have learned that the presence of their owner (or his commands) announces reception of shocks, even outside of the normal training context. This suggests that the welfare of these shocked dogs is at stake, at least in the presence of their owner.
Article
Play signals are known to function in the solicitation and maintenance of intraspecific play, but their role in interspecific play is relatively unstudied. We carried out two studies to examine interspecific signalling when humans play with domestic dogs, Canis familiaris. In the first, we recorded dog–owner play sessions on video to identify actions used by 21 dog owners to initiate play with their dogs. Thirty-five actions were each used by three or more owners. These included postures, vocalizations and physical contact with the dog. The actions varied greatly in their apparent success at instigating play which was, surprisingly, unrelated to the frequency with which they were used. We then did an experiment to determine the effect of composites of commonly used signals upon the behaviour of 20 Labrador retrievers. The performance of both ‘Bow’ and ‘Lunge’ by a human altered the subsequent behaviour of the dogs. Both signals caused increases in play, and Lunge produced significant increases in play bout frequency and mean bout duration. The efficiency of both these postural signals was enhanced when they were accompanied by play vocalizations. Thus, specific actions used by humans do communicate a playful context to dogs and can be described as interspecific play signals.
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While only a few studies have analysed training methods used on working dogs, a recent survey in 303 Belgian military handlers revealed the use of harsh training methods on military working dogs (MWD). The present work aims at analysing the training methods used on Belgian MWD and the behaviour of handlers to objectify the performances of the dog handlers teams (DH teams) and the welfare of the animals.A standardized evaluation, including obedience and protection work exercises, was conducted on DH teams (n=33). Every evaluation was done twice to assess the reliability of the observation methods. The behaviours of MWD and handlers were recorded on videotape and subsequently analysed. Results showed that handlers rewarded or punished their dogs intermittently. Stroking and patting the dogs were the most frequently used rewards. Pulling on the leash and hanging dogs by their collars were the most commonly used aversive stimuli.The team's performance was influenced by the training method and by the dog's concentration: (1) low-performance dogs received more aversive stimuli than high-performance dogs; (2) dog's distraction influenced the performance: distracted dogs performed less well.Handlers punished more and rewarded less at the second evaluation than at the first one. This suggests that handlers modified their usual behaviour at the first evaluation in view to present themselves in a positive light. During the second evaluation the dogs reacted to this higher frequency of aversive stimuli as they exhibited a lower posture after aversive stimuli. The authors cannot prove that the welfare of these dogs had been hampered, but there is an indication that it was under threat.Low team performances suggest that DH teams should train more regularly and undertake the usefulness of setting a new training system that would rely on: the use of more positive training methods, an increased training frequency, the elaboration of a course on training principles, and an improvement of dog handler relationship.
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In a questionnaire survey of dog owners, 88% of respondents’ dogs had received some form of training. Training methods varied; 16% of owners said that they used only positive reinforcement, 12% used a combination of positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement, 32% used a combination of positive reinforcement and positive punishment, and the remaining 40% used a combination of all categories. Seventy-two percent of owners used some form of positive punishment. The mean number of potentially undesirable behaviors reported was 11.3 per dog. Attendance at formal training classes did not significantly affect the total number of potentially undesirable behaviors reported. However, dogs that had attended puppy socialization classes were less likely to show an undesirable reaction to dogs from outside the household, and owners who carried out informal training at home, but did not attend any form of formal training class, were more likely to report some form of aggression in their dog. The training method used by owners was also related to the total number of potentially undesirable behaviors shown by the dogs. When individual categories of potentially undesirable behavior were investigated, the type of training method used was also significantly associated with attention-seeking score, fear (avoidance) score, and aggression score. Other factors related to the overall number of potentially undesirable behaviors included the age and origin of the dog.
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The way in which cognitive functioning is affected by stressors is an important area of research for applied ethologists because stress caused by captive conditions may disrupt cognitive processes and lead to welfare and husbandry problems. Such problems may be minimised through an understanding of the links between stress and cognition. The effects of stress on cognitive function have been studied in disciplines ranging from human perceptual psychology to animal neuroscience. The aim of this paper is to provide an introduction to this research, focusing on the effects of stressors on attention, memory formation and memory recall. Findings from such a diverse literature with little apparent inter-disciplinary communication are inevitably complex and often contradictory. Nevertheless, some generalities do emerge. The idea that an inverted U-shaped relationship exists between an individual's state of stress or arousal and its ability to perform a cognitive task effectively, the so-called Yerkes–Dodson law, is commonly encountered. The law has limited explanatory value because it is unlikely that different stressors act on cognitive function via the same intervening, non-specific state. Furthermore, the law only provides a very general description of the relationship between stress and cognitive function. Empirical research on attention and memory processes reveals more specific findings. Stressors appear to cause shifts, lapses and narrowing of attention, and can also influence decision speed. These processes may be viewed as serving an adaptive role helping the animal to search for and scrutinise a source of danger. There is conflicting evidence as to whether hormones involved in the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal stress response play a part in these processes. These hormones and those involved in the sympathetic-adrenomedullary stress response do appear to play an important role in memory formation. Low or moderate concentrations of circulating glucocorticoids and catecholamines can enhance memory formation, while excessively high or prolonged elevations of these hormones can lead to memory disruption. The effects of stressors on memory recall are less clear. There is evidence for disruptive effects, and for facilitatory effects indicating state-dependent memory recall; events experienced under conditions of high arousal may be best recalled under similar conditions. Applied ethologists have the opportunity to extend work in this area, which often involves studies of single stressors/stress hormones acting in isolation and limited measures of cognitive function, by focusing on real-life husbandry stressors encountered by captive animals. This will yield fundamental information which also has direct relevance to animal welfare and management issues.
Article
The behavioural characteristics of specialist search dogs were examined using a survey of 244 dog handlers and trainers. The English Springer Spaniel was the most common breed, followed by the Labrador Retriever, cross breeds and the Border Collie. Individuals of these four breeds varied significantly on 5 out of 30 characteristics, as rated by their handlers, namely; tendency to be distracted when searching, agility, motivation to obtain food, independence, and stamina. English Springer Spaniels and Border Collies scored significantly closer to ideal levels than did Labrador Retrievers and cross breeds, for several of these characteristics. Overall satisfaction with the handler’s own dog(s) did not differ between the four most common breeds and was also unaffected by the dog’s sex. However, males and females did differ in their ratings for one characteristic; males were rated higher than females, which were rated closer to the ideal, for aggression towards other dogs. Overall, there appeared to be little difference between the sexes in their suitability for search work.
Article
The effects of social contact and space allowance on the expression of play behaviour in domestic calves were studied. Forty-eight female dairy calves in three groups were housed in one of four pen types: (1) small single pen (0.9 m×1.5 m); (2) large single pen (1.8 m×3.0 m); (3) small group pen (1.8 m×3.0 m for 4 calves); and (4) large group pen (3.0 m×5.4 m for 4 calves). The behaviour of all calves was video-recorded for 8 h in week 2 and for 24 h in weeks 4 and 6 of the experiment. Data for play behaviour were obtained from each individual for all hours of observation. In weeks 4 and 6, space allowance affected the quantity of locomotor play. A low space allowance reduced locomotor play in both individually and group-reared calves. The quality of locomotor play was also affected. Elements of locomotor play that involve much movement were either absent or rarely seen in the small single pens. Furthermore, calves in single pens were less active than calves in group pens. The results of this study indicate that sufficient space is essential for the expression of play behaviour in domestic calves. It is suggested that play behaviour may be used to indicate the presence of good welfare in calves and in juveniles of other farm animal species. The use of a measure to indicate the presence of good welfare in addition to measures to indicate the absence of poor welfare may be a step towards a better assessment of welfare in farm animals.
Article
The aim of this paper is to investigate whether relinquishing owners’ reports of their dogs’ behaviour corresponds with how these dogs behave in their new homes 2 and 6 weeks post-adoption. In this longitudinal study, information on dog behaviour was collected using a 20-item questionnaire. The first questionnaire (QA) was completed by owners relinquishing their dogs to one of five shelters in the UK. Second and third questionnaires were completed by new owners of these dogs 2 weeks (QB) and 6 weeks (QC) after adoption, allowing 56 QA and QB, 40 QA and QC and 191 QB and QC comparisons to be undertaken. Behaviour was rated using 5-point rating scales for each of the questionnaire items: the degree to which the dog was aggressive, excitable, anxious, fearful and attentive in specific situations and how often it would chew furniture and vocalise, steal food and mount people. Test–re-test reliability coefficients between QB and QC data revealed that reliability of new owner reports was moderate to good for all 20 items. Only 9/20 behaviour ratings correlated significantly between the relinquishing and new homes: fear of the veterinarian (2 and 6 weeks), anxiety at the vets (2 weeks) and when left alone (2 and 6 weeks), chewing furniture (2 weeks), sexual mounting (2 weeks), stealing food (6 weeks) aggression towards unfamiliar dogs (2 and 6 weeks), unfamiliar people (2 and 6 weeks), and the veterinarian (2 and 6 weeks). The remaining behaviours were not correlated between successive homes at either 2 or 6 weeks. Discrepancies are discussed in terms of the reliability of owner reports, the kennel experience, and differences in owner and household characteristics. The implications for shelters are that whilst some of the information provided by relinquishing dog owners is useful in determining the training and rehabilitation needs of dogs post-adoption, some reports are not predictive and should not be relied upon.
Article
It has often been suggested that intraspecific dominance relationships are established through play. By analogy, it is also claimed that the outcome of competitive games can affect dog–human relationships. This paper experimentally tests the latter idea. Fourteen Golden Retrievers were each subjected to two treatments; 20 sessions of a tug-of-war game with the experimenter which they were allowed to win, and 20 sessions which they lost. Their relationship with the experimenter was assessed, via a composite behavioural test, once at the outset and once after each treatment. Principal components analysis allowed the 52 behavioural measures to be combined into nine underlying factors. Confidence (the factor most closely corresponding to conventional dominance) was unaffected by the treatments. Dogs scored higher for obedient attentiveness after play treatments, irrespective of whether they won or lost, and demandingness scores increased with familiarity of the test person. The 10 most playful dogs scored significantly higher for playful attention seeking after winning than after losing. We conclude that, in this population, dominance dimensions of the dog–human relationship are unaffected by the outcome of repetitive tug-of-war games. However, we suggest that the effects of games may be modified by the presence of play signals, and when these signals are absent or misinterpreted the outcome of games may have more serious consequences. Games may also assume greater significance for a minority of “potentially dominant” dogs.
Article
Poor housing conditions, harsh training sessions and uncontrollable or unpredictable social environments are examples of the situations that may lead to reduced welfare status in dogs. Individuals that suffer from poor welfare presumably experience stress and may consequently exhibit stress responses. In order to evaluate stress responses as potential indicators of poor welfare in dogs, we review studies dealing with dogs subjected to stressors. The reported stress responses are categorized as being behavioural, physiological or immunological, and demonstrate the various ways stress is manifested in the dog.
Article
“Instinctive” behavior may be modified using operant techniques. We report here on a field study of training herding dogs in which reinforcers and punishers were used by owners, who were themselves being trained to control their dogs. Access to sheep was assumed to be a primary reinforcer for herding dogs. While blocking their access was aversive to them. Over several months, the number of blocking and access actions by the human were scored during the training of seven naïve herding dogs. We found that rates of punishment by blocking the dog's access to sheep or by stopping the dog occurred at higher levels than positive reinforcement from access or verbal praise. While positive reinforcement can be used exclusively for the training of certain behaviors, it is suggested that in the context of instinctive motor patterns, negative reinforcement and punishment may be desirable and necessary additions to positive reinforcement techniques.
Article
Prior to seeking the counsel of a veterinary behaviorist many dog owners have attempted behavior modification techniques suggested by a variety of sources. Recommendations often include aversive training techniques which may provoke fearful or defensively aggressive behavior. The purpose of this study was to assess the behavioral effects and safety risks of techniques used historically by owners of dogs with behavior problems.A 30-item survey of previous interventions was included in a behavioral questionnaire distributed to all dog owners making appointments at a referral behavior service over a 1-year period. For each intervention applied, owners were asked to indicate whether there was a positive, negative, or lack of effect on the dog's behavior, and whether aggressive behavior was seen in association with the method used. Owners were also asked to indicate the source of each recommendation. One-hundred-and-forty surveys were completed. The most frequently listed recommendation sources were “self” and “trainers”. Several confrontational methods such as “hit or kick dog for undesirable behavior” (43%), “growl at dog” (41%), “physically force the release of an item from a dog's mouth” (39%), “alpha roll” (31%), “stare at or stare [dog] down” (30%), “dominance down” (29%), and “grab dog by jowls and shake” (26%) elicited an aggressive response from at least a quarter of the dogs on which they were attempted. Dogs presenting for aggression to familiar people were more likely to respond aggressively to the confrontational techniques “alpha roll” and yelling “no” compared to dogs with other presenting complaints (P
Article
The use of electric shock collars for training dogs is the subject of considerable controversy. Supporters claim that they are a reliable means of eliminating self-rewarding behaviour and that they can be used over greater distances and with less risk of stress and injury than mechanical devices, such as choke chains. Opponents cite the risk of incorrect or abusive use and temptation to use electric training collars without thought or time given to alternative training methods, regardless of the fact that their use may be associated with pain and fear. The aim of this study was to investigate whether any stress is caused by the use of electric shock collars or not and in this way to contribute to their evaluation with respect to animal welfare.
Article
Several aspects of agonistic experience are described for freeranging infant rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta)on Cayo Santiago. Even before infants are fully integrated with peers in rank dominance based on maternal ranks,infants of highranking mothers tend to be threatened less frequently by other members of the group and are less likely to be threatened by unfamiliar individuals than are infants of lowranking mothers. There is no evidence that fearful interactions between pairs of infants are related to their mother’s ranks before 22 weeks of age. However, an imperfect hierarchy can be constructed for infants between 27 and 30 weeks of age. At this age,infants of higherranking mothers are also more likely to receive protection when threatened than are infants of lowerranking mothers. When protected, their protectors are less likely to emit fearful gestures to the infants’ threatener. Close female relatives appear to play a large role in the protection of infants and may be more directly responsible for the differences described above than the mother, other relatives, or other highranking members of the group. It is suggested that more than one mechanism, including intervention by the mother and by close female relatives,may be important in rank acquisition among peers.
Article
Play signals are known to function in the solicitation and maintenance of intraspecific play, but their role in interspecific play is relatively unstudied. We carried out two studies to examine interspecific signalling when humans play with domestic dogs, Canis familiaris. In the first, we recorded dog–owner play sessions on video to identify actions used by 21 dog owners to initiate play with their dogs. Thirty-five actions were each used by three or more owners. These included postures, vocalizations and physical contact with the dog. The actions varied greatly in their apparent success at instigating play which was, surprisingly, unrelated to the frequency with which they were used. We then did an experiment to determine the effect of composites of commonly used signals upon the behaviour of 20 Labrador retrievers. The performance of both ‘Bow’ and ‘Lunge’ by a human altered the subsequent behaviour of the dogs. Both signals caused increases in play, and Lunge produced significant increases in play bout frequency and mean bout duration. The efficiency of both these postural signals was enhanced when they were accompanied by play vocalizations. Thus, specific actions used by humans do communicate a playful context to dogs and can be described as interspecific play signals.
Article
A retrospective study was conducted to determine the relative frequency and type of elimination problem seen in dogs at a university referral practice and to evaluate the efficacy of the suggested treatments. Cases presented to the Animal Behavior Clinic at Cornell University between 1987 and 1996 were reviewed. Of 1,173 cases, 105 (9%) were house-soiling cases. Of these cases, the authors obtained outcome information from 70. Within the diagnosis of house soiling, incomplete housebreaking (n=59; 84%) were the most frequent referral cases, of which 48 cases (81%; 95% confidence interval, 69% to 90%) improved. Separation anxiety was considered the second most common underlying cause (n=27; 39%), of which 85% (n=23; 95% confidence interval, 66% to 96%) improved. Behavior modification was the most often suggested treatment (n=58), with 48 (83%) cases improving. Behavior modification consisted of accompanying the dog to the preferred elimination area, rewarding the dog for eliminating there, and punishing the dog only when caught in the act of house soiling. These results suggest that correct house training, behavior modification involving positive reinforcement, and appropriate punishment are essential to diminish house-soiling problems in dogs.
Article
The ideal and actual characteristics of specialist search dogs have been examined in questionnaire surveys of 244 dog handlers and trainers from the six main UK dog-using Government agencies. The ten most important characteristics were (ideal level in brackets): acuity of sense of smell (very high), incentive to find an object which is out of sight (very high), health (very high), tendency to hunt by smell alone (very high), stamina (very high), ability to learn from being rewarded (very high), tendency to be distracted when searching (very low); agility (high), consistency of behaviour from day to day (high), motivation to chase an object (high). Significant differences between actual and ideal levels were found for 22 of the 30 characteristics, predominantly in undesirable attributes, suggesting that there is scope for significant improvement in operational effectiveness.
Article
This study investigates the influence of training experiences on dogs' performance in a problem solving task, namely opening a box to obtain food. One hundred and eighteen dogs allocated to two different groups according to their training experience (no/basic training vs high level training) were tested. In each group the dogs saw the researcher manipulating either the paw-pad or the lid, prior to being allowed free access to the apparatus. No effect of the locus of manipulation was observed. However, there was a strong effect of training on the dogs' performance regardless of manipulation condition. Compared to untrained dogs, highly trained dogs were more successful in opening the box and spent significantly more time interacting with the apparatus; whereas untrained dogs spent significantly more time looking back at their owners and the researcher. These results indicate that high levels of training improve dogs' problem solving ability, with dogs appearing to be more proactive in the their interaction with novel objects.
Genetics and Social Behavior of the Dog. Uni-versity of Chicago Press Relinquishing dog owners' ability to pre-dict behavioural problems in shelter dogs post adoption
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The effects of play upon dominance and attachment dimensions of the dog-owner relationship
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