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Puppy parties and beyond: the role of early age socialization practices on adult dog behavior

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Puppy parties and beyond: the role of early age socialization practices on adult dog behavior

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Abstract

The most common role of a domestic dog in the developed world currently is that of companion. Puppy socialization practices play a large role in the development of well-adjusted adult dogs that display few undesirable behaviors, and which can establish a positive, lifelong relationship with their owner. Age-appropriate socialization practices should begin within a few days of birth, and should extend well into adulthood. These practices should aim to provide exposure to many of the types of experiences, people, and objects that the dog is likely to encounter over the course of its life, in a controlled and pleasant way. Dogs that are appropriately socialized as puppies are less likely to exhibit behavioral problems as adults, including aggression and fearfulness. They are more likely to engage in positive social behaviors with humans, and can learn how to play games with humans better than dogs without proper socialization. However, the evidence in support of puppy socialization classes is less clear. There is some evidence that puppy classes positively impact adult behavior, but other studies show no clear benefit. Since socialization should begin early in a puppy’s life, it is the responsibility of the breeder and the owner. Breeders can ensure that puppies are exposed to age-appropriate experiences while in the litter, and owners must ensure that the dog continues to have varied experiences throughout its life. Veterinarians are also an important part of this process, and are heavily relied upon by owners to provide information about health and behavior. Since veterinarians often see puppies during vaccinations, owners can be educated about proper socialization practices at those visits. Future research should aim to determine the minimum amounts of socialization required for a puppy, and whether there is a maximum amount, beyond which there is no benefit, or even a disadvantage.

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... To avoid fear responses in the dog's future it is recommended to expose a pup during the early socialisation period to any social or non-social stimuli (e.g. objects, sounds, textures, locations and situations) that will likely be part of their adult environment (Battaglia, 2009;Howell et al., 2015). A retrospective study found that dogs raised in domestic environments (i.e., dogs that spent their sensitive period for socialisation at the stimulus-rich breeder's home) were less likely to develop fear and aggression towards unfamiliar people compared to dogs raised in non-domestic environments (Appleby et al., 2002). ...
... It should be noted that pups spend a large part of the sensitive period for socialisation at their breeder, who therefore has the prominent responsibility in the early socialisation process. Breeders should be strongly advised to provide their pups with a sufficient stimulating and variable environment, including social interactions with other dogs and humans, while taking care not to overstimulate the pups (Battaglia, 2009;Howell et al., 2015). A survey study with 48 Belgian dog breeders showed that environmental enrichment with non-social stimuli was provided by only Table 3. Overview of reviewed literature in dogs that provides evidence for the influence of maternal care and the early and late socialisation period on the development of behaviour and behavioural disorders. ...
... Apart from breeders, veterinarians have an important responsibility in ensuring the appropriate care of breeding dogs (Voith, 2009), as they are usually the first to examine the mother and her just born pups (Howell et al., 2015). Pups raised by owners who received expert advice, e.g., from veterinary behaviourists, are less likely to develop behavioural disorders later in life (Gazzano et al., 2008). ...
Article
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Behavioural disorders are a major reason for euthanasia and sheltering of pet dogs. The prevention and treatment of behavioural disorders requires a better understanding of the underlying causes. Early life experiences, such as maternal care, attachment and socialisation, have long lasting and serious consequences for the behavioural and physiological development of an individual. The complex interplay between these factors is likely to have consequences for the future dog-owner bond and the vulnerability to develop behavioural disorders. Here, we summarise the current literature on the interactions between maternal care, attachment formation, and the sensitive socialisation period and their potential consequences on adult dog behaviour. Based on the findings we highlight gaps in knowledge and provide suggestions for future research which are necessary to formulate recommendations for pet dog breeding and socialisation.
... Social contact between unfamiliar animals in early life therefore seems to allow the more rapid acquisition of mature social skills and/or cognitive ability. Encouraging social skills in early life can benefit social species in captivity, such as dogs [34] and zoo animals including primates [6]. Aggressive behaviour in captive species is of major animal welfare concern [10,34]. ...
... Encouraging social skills in early life can benefit social species in captivity, such as dogs [34] and zoo animals including primates [6]. Aggressive behaviour in captive species is of major animal welfare concern [10,34]. Encouraging the development of social skills in early life therefore contributes directly to animal welfare, with the reduction in injuries due to fighting being one of a range of benefits offered by socialization. ...
Article
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Animal contests are natural interactions that occur to obtain or defend resources such as food and territory. Selection should favour individuals that can win contests with minimal costs in terms of energy expenditure or injuries. We hypothesized that social skills contribute to animals' assessment abilities in a contest situation and thereby will shorten contest duration. Animals were either raised in early life conditions stimulating the development of social skills, termed socialization or not (control). Contests between 342 pigs at eight weeks old (171 dyads) were studied for opponent assessment ability (using a game theoretical approach), examining duration and escalation, social behaviours performed, injuries and outcome. Contesting dyads were from the same treatment group and varied in body weight, a validated measure of resource holding potential (RHP). Socialized animals had shorter contests that were resolved with fewer injuries and they showed more ritualized display behaviour, consistent with mutual assessment. Furthermore, there was evidence of a novel form of opponent assessment in the socialized group revealed by a positive relationship between winner RHP and fight duration. In conclusion, social skills enabled more rapid establishment of dominance relationships at lower cost. Besides its evolutionary relevance, these findings may also contribute towards improving animal welfare.
... There are many differences between PC research methodology including tools used in the behavioral problems' diagnosis, the protocol to perform PC, population, and the parameters measured. Owing to the fact that the differences between PC studies are considerable, the discussion of results of PC research must be carefully considered (Howell et al., 2015). ...
... No positive effect of PC on responses to stranger dogs in this study, unlike other reports (Kutsumi et al., 2013;Casey et al., 2014) or people (Blackwell et al., 2008). It is possible that most pet dogs are raised in enriching environments that provide adequate social exposure to unfamiliar people and dogs without the need for special classes (Howell et al., 2015). ...
Chapter
These proceedings contain oral and poster presentations from various experts on animal behaviour and animal welfare in veterinary medicine presented at the conference.
... Pet dogs live their whole lives in human families and are closely monitored by their owners, enabling valid assessment of potentially important environmental factors. One factor that has a known, important role on a dog's behaviour is the level of socialisation that the dog experiences during its puppyhood 23,25,26 . A limited amount of experiences from the surrounding world during this period is known to increase fearful behaviour in dogs 13,26 . ...
... Based on the questionnaire answers, a socialisation score (SS) describing the extent and frequency of socialisation events during a dog's puppyhood was also calculated. The score was used as a covariate in the genetic analyses, as socialisation is known to have a large effect on fearfulness in dogs 23,25 . The SS was calculated as a sum of socialisation event frequencies during a developmental period when the dog was between 7 weeks and 3 months of age (Supplementary Table 2). ...
Article
Full-text available
The complex phenotypic and genetic nature of anxieties hampers progress in unravelling their molecular etiologies. Dogs present extensive natural variation in fear and anxiety behaviour and could advance the understanding of the molecular background of behaviour due to their unique breeding history and genetic architecture. As dogs live as part of human families under constant care and monitoring, information from their behaviour and experiences are easily available. Here we have studied the genetic background of fearfulness in the Great Dane breed. Dogs were scored and categorised into cases and controls based on the results of the validated owner-completed behavioural survey. A genome-wide association study in a cohort of 124 dogs with and without socialisation as a covariate revealed a genome-wide significant locus on chromosome 11. Whole exome sequencing and whole genome sequencing revealed extensive regions of opposite homozygosity in the same locus on chromosome 11 between the cases and controls with interesting neuronal candidate genes such as MAPK9/JNK2, a known hippocampal regulator of anxiety. Further characterisation of the identified locus will pave the way for molecular understanding of fear in dogs and may provide a natural animal model for human anxieties.
... Dogs are social animals which have a strong inherent desire to interact with other dogs (Wells, 2004). Although most animal species rarely interact with individuals that are not members of their social group, dogs differ in this regard if, from an early age, they spend some time with individuals from outside their social group (Howell et al., 2015). This early conditioning gives dogs the inclination to interact with social partners that are not from their household. ...
... Similarly, the dog's size was not associated with sniffing behaviors. The reason may be that sniffing conspecifics are based upon inherited behavior patterns derived from those of their canid ancestors (Bradshaw and Lea, 1992) and on early conditioning on conspecifics from outside their social group (Howell et al., 2015) that gives dogs a strong inclination to sniff dogs that are not from their household. ...
Article
Although body sniffing is the most frequent canine interaction in public places, little is known about olfactory behaviors between walking dogs. The aim of this study was to examine the association of dog, human and behavior characteristics with the number of sniffing dogs within a dyad, with the initiation and termination of sniffing, with the first and last area sniffed on the recipient’s body and with the number of areas sniffed on the recipient’s body in walking dogs in public places. We observed 538 dyadic encounters between sexually intact dogs, each led by one owner. We randomly selected one dog from each of 538 dyads, yielding 486 focal dogs actively involved in sniffing for analysis. Interacting dogs were more likely to engage in mutual than single dog sniffing when the owners communicated with each other than when they did not. Dogs more likely initiated sniffing than not when a male dog encountered a female than vice versa. Dogs more likely sniffed the rear than the head as the first area on the recipient’s body when only one dog sniffed the other than when both dogs sniffed each other; and also when they initiated sniffing than when they did not. Dogs more likely sniffed more than one area than only one area on the recipient’s body when they sniffed the head or abdomen than the rear as the first area on the recipient’s body; when both dogs sniffed one another than when only one dog sniffed the other; and also when they initiated sniffing than when they did not. Dogs more likely sniffed the abdomen or rear than the head as the last area on the recipient’s body, when only one dog sniffed the other than when both dogs sniffed one another; and also when they sniffed more than one area on the recipient’s body than when they sniffed only one area. Dogs more likely terminated sniffing than not when an adult dog encountered a puppy than vice versa. In conclusion, dyadic sniffing behaviors between sexually intact dogs, each walking with one owner, were mainly associated with the owners’ communication, the number of sniffing dogs within a dyad, the dog’s sex and age and with the initiation of sniffing.
... Very little is known about the natural interactions of juvenile (pre-and around weaning period) dogs and their older canine companions (kin and non-kin) in the case of companion (pet) and working dogs. Contrary to dog-human interactions during puppyhood, which were recently investigated from multiple aspects and considered to be a crucial part of the "process of proper socialization" [3,[28][29][30], the behavior and effect of adult dogs on puppies in the home environment have received much less interest from investigators. Among the most likely reasons for this is the difficulty of conducting observations at the owners' home, or the highly variable social environment (i.e., there is no standardized or "natural" social structure at breeders' homes that would include roughly the same kinds of adult dogs around the puppies). ...
... Keeping conditions reportedly affected the puppies' reactivity to other dogs' barking-the breeders observed the weakest reaction (i.e., lower levels of fearfulness, or tendency to join the others barking) in those puppies that were kept together with the other dogs in the household without any restriction. Although the first couple of months are considered crucial in the proper socialization of young dogs [47], and successful socialization is unequivocally considered a key factor in avoiding problem behaviors in dogs (e.g., [48]), still, the majority of scientific studies concentrate on the events of socialization that typically follow the puppies' departure from the breeder's home (e.g., [29,30]). Relatively few papers target the early interactions between the living environment and puppies still with their mother (e.g., [49]). ...
Article
Full-text available
Socialization with humans is known to be a pivotal factor in the development of appropriate adult dog behavior, but the role and extent of dog–dog interactions in the first two months of life is rarely studied. Although various forms of alloparental behaviors are described in the case of wild-living canids, the social network of companion dogs around home-raised puppies is almost unknown. An international online survey of companion dog breeders was conducted, asking about the interactions of other dogs in the household with the puppies and the pups’ mother. Based on the observations of these breeders, our study showed an intricate network of interactions among adult dogs and puppies below the age of weaning. Alloparental behaviors (including suckling and feeding by regurgitation) were reportedly common. Independent of their sex, other household dogs mostly behaved in an amicable way with the puppies, and in the case of unseparated housing, the puppies reacted with lower fear to the barks of the others. Parousness, sexual status, and age of the adult dogs had an association with how interested the dogs were in interacting with the puppies, and also with how the mother reacted to the other dogs. Our study highlights the possible importance of dog–dog interactions during the early life of puppies in forming stable and low-stress interactions with other dogs later in life.
... Puppies raised in a home receive exposure to a greater range of physical and social environments, sounds, novel objects and experiences and are more socialized with humans. These findings, and those of comparable studies (Howell et al., 2015), have direct implications for dog breeders, especially those operating outdoor kennels, illustrating that by enriching the environment of dam and puppies, dogs will experience a reduced the risk of subsequent behavioural problems. Our results highlight the critical role breeders can make in preparing puppies, as well as informing future owners, of the importance of socialization and training for companion dogs (Howell et al., 2015). ...
... These findings, and those of comparable studies (Howell et al., 2015), have direct implications for dog breeders, especially those operating outdoor kennels, illustrating that by enriching the environment of dam and puppies, dogs will experience a reduced the risk of subsequent behavioural problems. Our results highlight the critical role breeders can make in preparing puppies, as well as informing future owners, of the importance of socialization and training for companion dogs (Howell et al., 2015). ...
Article
Domestic dogs experience a sensitive period for learning during early life and conditions during this time can have important consequences in the adult. We investigated the effects of kennel environment during early life, comparing the temperaments of puppies reared in indoor kennels, located in the breeder’s house, with those reared in outdoor kennels, located outside the breeder’s house and with limited human contact. The study was conducted on 264 puppies from 44 litters belonging to 21 breeds. Of these, 160 puppies were reared in indoor kennels (70 female and 90 male puppies, 27 litters) and 104 in outdoor kennels (52 female and 52 male, 17 litters). We conducted PAT (Puppy Aptitude Testing) tests to measure puppy temperament at an age of seven or eight weeks. Using a gamma GLMM fitted using Bayesian inference, we showed a statistically important effect of kennelling on posterior mean PAT scores. Puppies kennelled outdoors scored higher on PAT testing, irrespective of sex or age, and after accommodating for dependency in the data due to litter identity. Puppies raised outdoors showed an elevated tendency for submissive behaviour, a greater risk of aggression through fear, and a lowered capacity for coping with novel conditions. These findings have direct implications for dog breeders and illustrates that enrichment of the environment of dam and puppies can mitigate the risk of behavioural problems in adult dogs.
... Analogie dotyczące wybranych zaburzeń behawioralno-emocjonalnych psów i ludzi Problemy z nadaktywnością, agresją czy nadmierną lękliwością są, na co zwraca uwagę wielu badaczy, spowodowane addytywnym wpływem osobnika oraz błędami środowiskowymi (17,22). ...
... Krytyczny okres socjalizacji, podczas którego rozwija się najwięcej połączeń nerwowych w mózgu, przypada na okres między trzecim a dwunastym tygodniem życia szczenięcia. Jeżeli wówczas szczenię będzie miało ograniczoną ekspozycję na nieznane bodźce, połączenia nerwowe w jego mózgu nie osiągną optymalnego rozwoju, a proces ten jest już nieodwracalny (22). Na reaktywność szczeniąt duży wpływ ma także środowisko, w którym przebywa matka, jej odżywianie oraz ekspozycja na stres. ...
Article
Full-text available
Human-dog interactions not only shape interspecies relationships in the social context, but also affect the emotional and psychological state of both man and animal. One consequence of living in a developed and urbanized environment is an increase in the occurrence of civilization diseases, which include psychological and emotional disorders occurring not only in humans, but also in animals. The aim of the study was to analyze selected behavioral problems of dogs in the context of their equivalents among human mental illnesses. Such similarities have been demonstrated in early-development disorders, affective disorders, personality disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorders. The development of knowledge about emotional disorders manifested by dogs may have significant importance in the prevention and treatment of human mental illnesses by providing information about their genesis, neurophysiological basis and heritability.
... There are many differences between PC research methodology including tools used in the behavioral problems' diagnosis, the protocol to perform PC, population, and the parameters measured. Owing to the fact that the differences between PC studies are considerable, the discussion of results of PC research must be carefully considered (Howell et al., 2015). ...
... No positive effect of PC on responses to stranger dogs in this study, unlike other reports (Kutsumi et al., 2013;Casey et al., 2014) or people (Blackwell et al., 2008). It is possible that most pet dogs are raised in enriching environments that provide adequate social exposure to unfamiliar people and dogs without the need for special classes (Howell et al., 2015). ...
Article
This study was designed to assess the effect of puppies and juvenile dogs' attendance at puppy classes on the behavior of the dogs at their adult age. For this purpose, 80 dogs (32 of which had attended puppy classes and the other 48 had not) were evaluated using the Canine Behavioral Assessment and Research Questionnaire that was filled out by owners 1 year after the completion of the puppy training. Dogs that attended classes were categorized as puppies (≤3 months) (n = 15) or juveniles (>3 months) (n = 17). Ordinal regression models were used to estimate the influence of puppy classes on the different behavioral traits assessed by the Canine Behavioral Assessment and Research Questionnaire. The results indicated that both puppies and juveniles that have attended classes had more favorable scores for family-dog aggression, trainability, nonsocial fear, and touch sensitivity. The study showed that attending puppy class may be important for social exposure with other puppies and people which could have an association with the dog's long-term behavior.
... The tendency for aggression seems to be a result of both environmental and genetic factors [55,56] and may be modulated by life experiences. Dogs that are appropriately socialized as puppies are less likely to exhibit aggression [57,58]. One of the oldest studies addressing sex differences in aggressive behavior in dogs was based on direct interviews with the owners [59]. ...
... Another field that requires exploration is the ontogenesis of personality traits. It is established that dogs appropriately socialized as puppies are less likely to exhibit aggression [57,58]; however, nothing is known about the other personality traits. The effect of the type of human-dog relationship in shaping dogs' personalities may be very important. ...
Article
In this paper, we review the scientific reports of sex-related differences in dogs as compared to the outcomes described for wild animals. Our aim was to explore whether the differences in male and female dogs were affected by the domestication process, in which artificial selection is the main driver. For this purpose, we used information regarding personality traits, cognitive processes, and perception, for which there is a wide theoretical framework in behavioral ecology. Aggressiveness and boldness, described as a behavioral syndrome, were reported as being higher in males than females. Females also seemed more inclined to interspecific social interactions with humans in tasks that require cooperative skills, whereas males appeared more inclined to social play, thus implying different levels of social engagement between the sexes, depending on the context. Studies on cognitive processes underlined a greater flexibility in resorting to a particular navigation strategy in males. Most lateralization studies seem to support the view that males are preferentially left-handed and females are preferentially right-handed. Reports on visual focusing coherently rank females as superior in focusing on single social and physical stimuli. Only male dogs are able to discriminate kin; however, the timing of the olfactory recording in sexes is related to the stimulus relevance. Dogs are largely in line with life-history theories, which indicate that sex differences in dogs are mainly rooted in their biological and evolutionary heritage, remaining unchanged despite artificial selection. In contrast, the higher intraspecific sociability in wild male animals was not replicated in dogs.
... Arguably both are important and the biggest difference between the two types of social learning engagements is one focuses on structured communication with humans and the other focuses on communication with other conspecifics. When comparing the behavioral effects of structured puppy training with humans to puppy socialization alone, researchers found puppies that attended structured training scored better on "command responses" than those that attended only socialization engagements or "puppy parties" [15,20]. Structured puppy training classes in young dogs have been shown to reduce the risk of dogs' aggression to unfamiliar people [16,20]. ...
... When comparing the behavioral effects of structured puppy training with humans to puppy socialization alone, researchers found puppies that attended structured training scored better on "command responses" than those that attended only socialization engagements or "puppy parties" [15,20]. Structured puppy training classes in young dogs have been shown to reduce the risk of dogs' aggression to unfamiliar people [16,20]. On the other hand, it has been shown that dogs attending either puppy socialization/training classes or puppy parties/socialization groups prior to 6 months of age had significantly lower total problem behavior scores [10]. ...
Article
Full-text available
An online survey about puppy training was sent to members of the Center for Canine Behavior Studies and posted on our social media platforms. Six hundred forty-one (641) qualifying owners provided information on 1023 dogs. About half (48%) of the dogs involved in the study attended puppy training and the balance (52%) did not. The goal of the study was to find out whether puppy training at various ages (1-3 months, 4 months, 5-6 months) helped prevent behavior problems later in life (≥1 year). Attending training at 6 months of age or younger resulted in 0.71 the odds of developing aggressive behavior (95% CI: 0.53-0.97; p = 0.030), 0.64 the odds of having a compulsive behavior (95% CI: 0.45-0.92; p = 0.015), 0.60 the odds of exhibiting destructive behavior (95% CI: 0.37-0.96; p = 0.035), 0.68 the odds of excessive barking (95% CI: 0.47-0.99; p = 0.043), and 1.56 the odds of house soiling (95% CI: 1.08-2.27; p = 0.019). Ancillary findings about the entire study population were that dogs acquired at 12 weeks of age or younger were found to have 0.65 the odds of fear/anxiety (95% CI: 0.46-0.92; p = 0.016) and 0.50 the odds of exhibiting destructive behavior (95% CI: 0.31-0.79; p = 0.003). In addition, male dogs were found to have 0.68 the odds of developing aggressive behavior (95% CI: 0.53-0.88; p = 0.003), 0.66 the odds of developing compulsive behavior (95% CI: 0.49-0.88; p = 0.006), 0.37 the odds of mounting/humping (95% CI: 0.26-0.52; p < 0.001), and 1.53 the odds of rolling in repulsive materials (95% CI: 1.18-1.97; p = 0.001). Neutered dogs of either sex were found to have 3.10 the odds of fear/anxiety (95% CI: 2.05-4.72; p < 0.001), 1.97 the odds of escaping/running away (95% CI: 1.12-3.69; p = 0.025), 2.01 the odds of exhibiting coprophagia (95% CI 1.30-3.19; p = 0.002), and 1.72 the odds of rolling in repulsive materials (95% CI: 1.12-2.66; p = 0.014). The odds of problematic jumping deceased by 0.84 for each 1-year increase in age (95% CI: 0.80-0.88; p < 0.001).
... This is due to the period of heightened sensitivity to experiences that juvenile dogs undergo, which begins at 2-3 weeks of age and lasts until the puppy is ∼12-14 weeks old (33). As experiences in this time form the foundation for adult personality, it is strongly recommended that puppies be exposed, in a positive way, to the full range of experiences they are likely to encounter as adults (39,40). ...
Article
Full-text available
In many countries where companion dogs are popular, owners are strongly encouraged to neuter their dogs. Consequently, millions of dogs are neutered each year. In recent times considerable attention has been paid to the possible effects of such procedures on canine health and welfare. Less scrutinized are the potential ramifications of widespread neutering on the breeding of dogs and their continued success as human companions. This paper summarizes research investigating factors influencing the breeding and rearing of dogs most suited to companionship roles in contemporary, typically high-density, communities, and briefly reviews current breeder practices. It then argues that a fundamental shift to promote inclusion of “proven” companion dogs in the gene pool, as opposed to dogs meeting conformation or working/sporting standards, is required to successfully meet the needs of modern urban dog owners. A new model is proposed, whereby responsible owners and breeders work together to produce dogs most suited for life as human companions.
... Although genetics play a key role, with studies clearly showing the personality of the parents impacts offspring temperament [60], environmental inputs also play a formative role [61]. The peak socialisation period for all puppies is between 3 and 12 weeks-of-age [62]. During this time, dogs learn about conspecifics and become desensitised to environmental stimuli. ...
Article
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Hunting feral pigs using dogs is a popular recreational activity in Australia. Dogs are used to flush, chase, bail, and hold feral pigs, and their use for these activities is legal in some states and territories and illegal in others. However, there is little knowledge about the health and welfare of dogs owned specifically for the purpose of pig hunting. We conducted a review of the literature on working dogs in Australia and overseas to determine the likely welfare impacts confronting pig-hunting dogs. We identified numerous challenges facing pig-hunting dogs throughout their lives. Risks to welfare include overbreeding, wastage due to behavioural incompatibilities, the use of aversive training techniques including electronic shock collars, solitary kenneling and tethering, high exposure to infectious diseases including zoonotic diseases, inadequate vaccination and anthelmintic prophlyaxis, high incidence of traumatic and other injuries during hunts, climatic exposure during transportation, mortality during hunts, and a suboptimal quality of life after retirement. There are also significant welfare concerns for the wild pigs hunted in this manner. We conclude that research needs to be conducted in order to determine the current health and welfare of pig-hunting dogs, specifically in Australia. The humaneness of this method of pest control urgently requires further assessment.
... Dogs can encounter a wide variety of playmates to explore the park with, as well increased exposure to other humans. Increased socialization is linked to less anxiety and improved confidence [9], which can lead to improved overall wellness for canines. ...
Conference Paper
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The dog park going experience has the potential for many positive experiences for dogs. Through observations, interviews and focus groups, we designed Barks & Rec, a cooperative system that encourages community connections and behaviors awareness in dogs park goers through interweaving the dog park community. With activity tracking integration, our design allows for owners to keep tabs on their dog's activity while contributing to community goals and encourages pet awareness.
... In reality, some authors hypothesized that humans and domestic dogs experienced convergent evolution of advanced social cognition, which has led to the emergence of one single, heterospecific group [34,35]. Conversely, other authors [36][37][38] emphasized the role of learning in the development of dogs' social skills for interacting with humans. As shown for a number of mammalian taxa [39], early social experiences affect later behaviour and the quality of relationship dogs and humans share, including aggressive and fearful attitudes [36,40,41]. ...
Article
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Although popular culture describes them as mortal enemies, more and more often, dogs and cats live under the same roof. Does this make them best friends? Can sharing the same social and physical environment make them similar? This study compares the approaches of dogs and cats living in the same household have towards humans and other pets as perceived by the owner. Questionnaires collected from 1270 people owning both dog(s) and cat(s) were analysed. Most dogs and cats living together are playful with familiar humans (76.2%) but dogs have a more sociable approach towards strangers and conspecifics than cats (P<0.001). Moreover, the percentage of dogs that have a playful relationship with the owner (84.0%) was higher than cats (49.2%; P<0.001). Dogs and cats living together eat in different places and show different mutual interactions: more dogs lick the cat (42.8%) and more cats ignore the dog (41.8%) than vice versa (P<0.001). However, most dogs and cats sleep at least occasionally (68.5%) and play together (62.4%; P<0.001). Although some body postures, such as the tail’s position, are interpreted differently by the two species, the greater proportions of dogs and cats show a relaxed response to several kinds of approaches of their roommate. Our questionnaire confirms the common beliefs about the sociability of the dog and the privacy of the cat, but this does not result in continuous internal struggles. Most cohabitations are peaceful. Moreover, it is true that they speak different languages, but they seem to understand each other well and interpret each other's approaches in the right way. Thus, aspiring owners should not blindly believe popular assumptions, but both knowledge and respect for species-specific pet behaviours are essential to establish a balance in the household.
... All female dogs were selected in different dog schools. Often owners visiting a dog school put much effort on socialising and training their dogs and dogs visiting courses in a dog school regularly, independent of their reproductive status, could show equal social skills, since early socialisation plays a great role for the behaviour of adult dogs [9]. Therefore, more information about the dogs, their environment and upbringing should be considered. ...
... Given the existing evidence (for reviews, see Howell and Bennett, 2011;Howell et al., 2015) and expert opinions about the importance of puppy socialisation on reducing a vast range of undesirable behaviours in adulthood, including PB, GAPs should strongly encourage the adoption of positive, careful exposure to a wide range of experiences, objects, people, and other animals, for all greyhounds, by greyhound breeders and rearers. There is concern among some experts with experience in the greyhound racing industry that socialisation to small animals would result in dogs that were not interested in giving chase on the track. ...
Article
Greyhounds retired from the racing industry, or who are deemed unsuitable for racing, can make good companion animals. However, some greyhounds have a strong predilection towards predatory behaviour (PB), a motor pattern associated with the catching and consuming of prey. This tendency can negatively impact whether the dog is deemed suitable for adoption. Very few published studies have examined whether it is possible to prevent PB in dogs with this tendency, and those published studies made use of aversive techniques which are counter to the aims of many greyhound adoption programs (GAPs). The aim of this study was to measure dog behaviour experts’ opinions about the nature of PB, factors affecting its expression, and whether it can be prevented using a variety of different training and management methods. In an online survey (N = 84 respondents) and follow-up interviews (N = 12), experts generally agreed that PB is self-rewarding and unrelated to aggression of any kind, but some indicated that it could be related to play. Participants also reported that early socialisation towards small animals, and being rewarded for not chasing small animals as a young puppy, had the strongest influence on preventing PB expression in adult dogs. When asked whether it is possible to prevent PB in dogs with a history of engaging in it, experts who used only positive, reward-based techniques were typically (but not exclusively) more pessimistic about preventing PB than experts who incorporate both aversive and reward-based methods into their training practices. In line with existing recommendations for preventing PB, experts indicated that effectively managing a dog’s environment such that it never has an opportunity to engage in PB is the best way to prevent the behaviour. Contrary to expectations, experts reported that many adoptive owners would be willing and able to manage their dog’s environment in this way. They argued that PB tendency should therefore not rule out the possibility of adoption, provided that the new owners are educated about the risks of PB and that regular maintenance checks occur to ensure that dogs continue to be appropriately managed. These results could provide guidance for GAPs looking to increase the number of greyhounds that are adopted as pets.
... The percentage does not add up to 100% as owners could select more than one option. sation experiences or from previous negative experiences and associations with unpleasant stimuli, such as veterinary buildings, or uniforms, and the feeling of fear (Howell et al, 2015;Csoltova et al (2017) or poor reading of canine body language by veterinary professionals (Ryan, 2017). Thus it is important that the veterinary professional can work collaboratively with owners to produce canines habituated to veterinary visits and examinations. ...
Article
Background Canine handling intolerances (CHI) can be problematic for veterinary professionals (VPs), particularly when not disclosed by owners. Aims This study explored apparent prevalence of CHI during veterinary practice visits, owner willingness to disclose intolerances to VPs and their beliefs as to responsibilities for disclosure and risks of non-disclosure. Methods Using a prospective cross-sectional study design, an online, social media-based survey was distributed, which generated 471 usable responses over 4 months. Results The majority (60.7%) of dogs had CHI. Most owners (78.1%) would definitely alert VPs to CHI, 90.5% believed it was primarily the owners’ responsibility to disclose, with non-disclosure perceived to make procedures high risk for VPs. Veterinary practices could help prevent CHI, with puppy classes and information on canine body language which respondents also felt could be valuable. Conclusion With CHI common, owners and VPs have roles to play in prevention, disclosure and management to minimise risk to VPs and ensure all parties’ welfare.
... On the other hand, the high Responsiveness of adopted dogs (which were from the same genetic pool as the kenneled dogs), suggests that the kenneled dogs' lower responsiveness is more due to the effect of their different socialization, life experiences, and restricted environment, and less due to genetic influences. The importance of early socialization and rearing environment in shaping the dogs' behavior has long been documented [e.g., (62,63)]. For example, both (21) and (64) reported that social deprivation, especially at an early age, severely disrupts normal behavior development and could lead to abnormal social behaviors, strong fear responses, and difficulties to adapt to new situations. ...
Article
Full-text available
In dogs, the social and spatial restriction associated with living in a kennel environment could lead to chronic stress and the development of abnormal behaviors ("kennel-dog syndrome"). However, little is known about how kenneled dogs differ from their conspecifics living as pets in human families. In the current study, using a test battery exposing the dogs to novel stimuli, we compared the behavior of three groups of beagles: (1) kenneled dogs living in a restricted environment with limited human contact (N = 78), (2) family dogs living in human families as pets (N = 37), and (3) adopted dogs born in the kenneled population but raised in human families (N = 13). We found one factor comprising most of the test behaviors, labeled as Responsiveness. Family dogs and adopted dogs scored higher in Responsiveness than kenneled dogs. However, 23% of the kenneled dogs were comparable to family and adopted dogs based on a cluster analysis, indicating a similar (positive) reaction to novel stimuli, while 77% of the kenneled dogs were unresponsive (mostly immobile) in at least part of the test. To assess if the behavioral difference between the family and kenneled dogs could be due to genetic divergence of these two populations and/or to lower genetic diversity of the kenneled dogs, we analyzed their genetic structure using 11 microsatellite markers. We found no significant difference between the populations in their genetic diversity (i.e., heterozygosity, level of inbreeding), nor any evidence that the family and kenneled populations originated from different genetic pools. Thus, the behavior difference between the groups more likely reflects a G × E interaction, that is, the influence of specific genetic variants manifesting under specific environmental conditions (kennel life). Nevertheless, some kenneled individuals were (genetically) more resistant to social and environmental deprivation. Selecting for such animals could strongly improve the welfare of kenneled dog populations. Moreover, exploring the genetic background of their higher resilience could also help to better understand the genetics behind stress-and fear-related behaviors.
... In addition to breed-related variation, environmental input and individual learning have been shown to have a substantial effect on aggressive (Blackwell et al., 2008), impulsive (Lit et al., 2010) and fearful (Howell et al., 2015) behavior in dogs. Furthermore, environmental factors such as exposure to toxins (Aldridge et al., 2005) and enriched versus impoverished living conditions (Chourbaji et al., 2012) have been linked with changes in the serotonergic system in mammals. ...
Article
Previously identified correlations between circulating cortisol and serotonin levels with aggressive, fearful or impulsive behavior in dogs have led to the suggestion that these measures be assessed as screening tools to aid in the identification of individual dogs with aggressive or fearful tendencies in applied settings, such as shelters or breeding programs. Previous studies investigating relationships between peripheral serotonin or cortisol and behavioral measures have several limitations, including single-breed sample groups, small sample sizes, and inconsistent methods used to collect behavioral data. This study used previously validated questionnaires to investigate relationships between owner-reported histories of dogs' behavior and peripheral cortisol and serotonin measures collected upon presentation to a novel environment, in a mixed-breed and mixed-age sample of dogs. No notable relationships were found between these measures in this group, indicating that circulating cortisol and serotonin are poor candidates for use in applied behavioral assessments for mixed breed pet dogs of varying ages. Differences between results reported here and previous literature are discussed.
... There has been much discus- sion regarding influences from the early rearing environment on subsequent behaviour of domestic dogs (Appleby et al 2002;Pluijmakers et al 2010). It is advised that young puppies are exposed to a complex environment in a controlled manner in order to ensure that the puppy is in a positive emotional state (Howell et al 2015). Other factors can also affect the presence of UBs. ...
Article
Undesirable behaviours (UBs) are common in dogs and can jeopardise animal and human health, leading to dog abandonment and euthanasia. Dogs exhibiting UBs may have compromised welfare from underlying emotional motivations for the behaviour (eg anxiety) or from the methods used by owners to resolve the problem (eg aversive techniques). The objective of this study was to estimate proportional mortality due to UBs and risk factors for death due to UBs, including death from road traffic accidents, in dogs under three years of age attending primary-care veterinary practices in England from 2009-2014. Cases were identified by searching de-identified electronic patient records from primary-care veterinary practices participating in the VetCompass Programme. The findings highlight that dogs under three years of age are at a proportionately high risk of death due to UBs (33.7%) compared with other specific causes of death (eg gastrointestinal issues: 14.5%). Male dogs had 1.40× the odds of death from UB compared with females. The proportional mortality from UB for male dogs where information on the cause of death was available was 0.41. Neutered dogs had 1.94× the odds of death due to a UB compared with entire dogs. Aggression was the most prevalent UB overall. Veterinarians had recommended referral in 10.3% of cases where dogs died due to exhibiting a UB and had dispensed nutraceutical, pheromone or pharmacological treatment to 3.0% of the UB cases that died. This study shows that undesirable behaviours require better preventive measures and treatment, through further research and education of veterinarians, other professionals within the dog industry and owners.
... 8,9 When exposure to these experiences and stimuli is traumatic or absent, the puppy's social behavioural patterns may develop abnormally. 10 Dogs that are appropriately socialised as puppies are less likely to exhibit behavioural problems as adults, 11 and this has been highlighted in a recent study evaluating whether where puppies are sourced from (ie, pet shop or breeder) is associated with potentially problematic behaviours later in life. 12 The study found that dogs that had been purchased from a pet shop as puppies were almost twice as likely to display owner-directed aggression than those purchased directly from a breeder. ...
... Puppy training classes in veterinary clinics can be a good practice for socializing and adapting a puppy to the environment and standard procedures in a veterinary clinic. The second important role of such classes is the education of owners in order to help them to accurately assess behavioral signs of stress in dogs in daily life, in the waiting room or at a veterinarian's appointment (Chmelíková et al., 2020;Denenberg and Landsberg, 2008;González-Martínez et al., 2019;Howell et al., 2015;Mariti et al., 2015). ...
... In addition to breed-related variation, environmental input and individual learning have been shown to have a substantial effect on aggressive [41], impulsive [42], and fearful [43] behavior in dogs. Furthermore, environmental factors such as exposure to toxins [44] and enriched versus impoverished living conditions [45] have been linked to changes in the serotonergic system in mammals. ...
Article
Full-text available
Serotonin is considered to be the neurotransmitter that controls several types of behavior: aggressiveness, impulsivity, food selection, stimulation, sexual behavior, reaction to pain, and emotional manifestations. The aim of this study was to determine the serotonin values in 43 dogs, divided into three different experimental variants: (1) between two groups of medium (n = 6) and small (n = 4) breed shelter dogs; (2) in dogs with (n = 15) and without (n = 10) owners after administration of pre-spaying/neutering anesthesia; (3) in different behavioral states (n = 8) classified as follows: M1—happy, M2—aggressive, M3—calmed status, post-exposure to a stressful situation, compared to the reference time referred to as M0. There were no significant differences (p ≥ 0.05) regarding the serotonin values between the two groups of medium and small breed shelter dogs. Following anesthesia, the average mean serotonin values were significantly lower (p ≤ 0.003), by 63.85 ng/mL, in stray dogs compared to dogs with owners. No significant differences (p ≥ 0.05) were found when comparing the reference time M0 to M1, M2, and M3. The differences decreased significantly (p ≤ 0.05), by 89.61 ng/mL, between M1 and M2 and increased significantly (p ≤ 0.008), by 112.78 ng/mL, between M2 and M3.
... The endocrine balance reflected in the level of neuromodulators such as dopamine and serotonin as well as cortisol or noradrenaline is necessary for maintaining homeostasis and facilitates adaptation to stressful conditions [3,4]. Problems with dog's hyperactivity, aggression, or excessive fearfulness are a result of the additive effect of various factors, e.g., the presence of another individual and socialization errors [5,6]. An important role in processing the information reaching the brain is played by the asymmetric specialization of cerebral hemispheres referred to as laterality. ...
Article
Full-text available
It has been assumed that stroking relieves stress responses in dogs, and dogs with the activation of the left-brain hemisphere (right-pawed) may show better adaptation to stress conditions. The aim of the study was to determine whether the stroking stimulus induced changes in the level of selected neuroregulators in dogs’ blood and whether these changes depended on the sex and the predominance of the activity of one of the brain hemispheres. The study involved 40 dogs of various breeds and both sexes. The experimental animals were subjected to a behavioral tests (Kong test), and the levels of noradrenaline, serotonin, and cortisol were determined in their blood plasma. The results of the behavioral test revealed that most dogs exhibited increased activity of the left hemisphere. Furthermore, irrespective of the sex and paw preference, stroking the animal was found to alleviate the stress response, which was reflected in reduced cortisol levels and increased serotonin levels. It was found that the plasma noradrenaline, cortisol, and serotonin levels were lower in the female dogs than in the males. Additionally, the plasma noradrenaline and serotonin levels were higher in the right-pawed dogs than in the left-pawed dogs. The present results confirm the assumption that right-pawed dogs adapt to stressful conditions more readily.
... We identified two age classes (immature subjects < one year; adult subjects ≥ one year). This choice relies on the fact that dogs reach their full size at about one year of age (Geiger et al. 2016;Howell et al. 2015). When subjects belonging to the same age-class played together, the dyad was classified as "age-matched". ...
Preprint
Full-text available
Dogs engage in play behavior at every age and the play bow is their most iconic playful posture. However, the function of this posture is still under debate. Here, we selected the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog as a model breed to clarify the function of the play bow. We analyzed frame-by-frame 118 sessions of 24 subjects and recorded 76 play bow events. We found that all the play bows were performed in the visual field of the playmate suggesting that the sender takes into account the attentional state of the receiver when releasing the signal. By drawing survival curves and using log-rank test we found that play bow was mainly performed during a short pause in an ongoing session and that its performance triggered the playmate's reaction again. These findings show that play bow functions in restoring the partner motivation to play. Finally, by using a sequential analysis and a generalized mixed model, we found no evidence
... Effects of housing conditions and management systems/practices (see, e.g., Nordquist et al., 2017) such as improper diet, confinement, i.e. too little space for moving/running; Deficient socialization (Howell et al., 2015); Incorrect handling, management, and housing of an animal (e.g. caused by its owner's incompetence/ignorance) (Nordquist et al., 2017). ...
Article
Full-text available
Animal welfare is a multifaceted issue that can be approached from different viewpoints, depending on human interests, ethical assumptions, and culture. To properly assess, safeguard and promote animal welfare, concepts are needed to serve as guidelines in any context the animal is kept in. Several different welfare concepts have been developed during the last half decade. The Five Freedoms concept has provided the basis for developing animal welfare assessment to date, and the Five Domains concept has guided those responsible for safeguarding animal welfare, while the Quality of Life concept focuses on how the individual perceives its own welfare state. This study proposes a modified and extended version of an earlier animal welfare concept - the Dynamic Animal Welfare Concept (DAWCon). Based on the adaptability of the animal, and taking the importance of positive emotional states and the dynamic nature of animal welfare into account, an individual animal is likely in a positive welfare state when it is mentally and physically capable and possesses the ability and opportunity to react adequately to sporadic or lasting appetitive and adverse internal and external stimuli, events, and conditions. Adequate reactions are elements of an animal’s normal behavior. They allow the animal to cope with and adapt to the demands of the (prevailing) environmental circumstances, enabling it to reach a state that it perceives as positive, i.e., that evokes positive emotions. This paper describes the role of internal as well as external factors in influencing welfare, each of which exerts their effects in a sporadic or lasting manner. Behavior is highlighted as a crucial read-out parameter. As most animals under human care are selected for certain traits that may affect their behavioral repertoire it is crucial to have thorough ethograms, i.e., a catalogue of specific behaviors of the species/strain/breed under study. DAWCon highlights aspects that need to be addressed when assessing welfare and may stimulate future research questions.
... Puppies whose vaccinations were postponed also experienced a delay to an important life event: their first veterinary appointment. Positive experiences with veterinarians during puppies' formative years are vital to prevent later behavioural issues and also provide an opportunity for owners to get advice regarding their socialisation and development [77,78]. Therefore, these divergences from puppies' usual appointment timelines may have a long-term impact on their anxiety levels and behaviour. ...
Article
Full-text available
Background The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to have affected the welfare and health of dogs due to surges in adoptions and purchases, changes in the physical and mental health and financial status of dog owners, changes in dogs’ lifestyle and routines and limited access to veterinary care. The aims of this study were to investigate whether COVID-19 restrictions were associated with differences in Labrador retrievers’ lifestyle, routine care, insurance status, illness incidence or veterinary attendance with an illness, who were living in England and enrolled in Dogslife, an owner-based cohort study. Longitudinal questionnaire data from Dogslife that was relevant to the dates between the 23rd of March and the 4th of July 2020, during COVID-19 restrictions in England, were compared to data between the same dates in previous years from 2011 to 2019 using mixed regression models and adjusted chi-squared tests. Results Compared with previous years (March 23rd to July 4th, 2010 to 2019), the COVID-19 restrictions study period (March 23rd to July 4th 2020) was associated with owners reporting increases in their dogs’ exercise and worming and decreases in insurance, titbit-feeding and vaccination. Odds of owners reporting that their dogs had an episode of coughing (0.20, 95% CI: 0.04–0.92) and that they took their dogs to a veterinarian with an episode of any illness (0.58, 95% CI: 0.45–0.76) were lower during the COVID-19 restrictions compared to before. During the restrictions period, owners were less likely to report that they took their dogs to a veterinarian with certain other illnesses, compared to before this period. Conclusions Dogslife provided a unique opportunity to study prospective questionnaire data from owners already enrolled on a longitudinal cohort study. This approach minimised bias associated with recalling events prior to the pandemic and allowed a wider population of dogs to be studied than is available from primary care data. Distinctive insights into owners’ decision making about their dogs’ healthcare were offered. There are clear implications of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated restrictions for the lifestyle, care and health of dogs.
... Since dogs reach their adult size at about 1 year of age (Geiger et al., 2016;Howell et al., 2015), we classified dogs into two age classes (<12 months; >12 months). The dyads formed by subjects of the same age class were defined as 'age-matched', and those dyads formed by subjects belonging to different age classes were defined as 'age-mismatched'. ...
Article
Play fighting, the most iconic form of social play, is often punctuated by specific signals, such as the relaxed open mouth (ROM) display, limiting the risk of misunderstanding between playmates. Although there is general consensus that the ROM of dogs is a ritualized version of play biting, the empirical demonstration of the actual ritualization of ROM has been lacking. We videorecorded and analysed 118 playful sessions involving 24 Czechoslovakian wolfdogs (12 females; 12 males), which is a breed of domestic dog, Canis lupus familiaris, showing wolf-like behavioural traits. By using an integrated approach of different techniques (dog facial action coding system, an unsupervised cluster analysis and the Levenshtein distance), we empirically demonstrate that the ROM is intrinsically different from the play biting action in this breed of dog. Contrary to the play bite, during ROM, the recruitment of muscular action units for each facial display was more consistent, conspicuous and intra- and interindividually stereotyped. Moreover, a sequential analysis revealed that the ROM usually preceded playful offensive patterns, thus underlining the real metacommunicative function of the signal. Finally, by running a linear mixed model, we found that the most balanced sessions were punctuated by the most prolonged performance of ROM, thus revealing the efficiency of the facial signal in maintaining a balanced session. In conclusion, through the processes of formalization, simplification and emphasis, an ordinary precursor behaviour (i.e. play biting) has been taken out of context and transformed into an extraordinary, derived behaviour (i.e. ROM) specifically designed to attract receivers' attention and modulate playful social interactions in dogs.
... Although this timing of spay-neuter resulted in the longest lengths of stay, it would likely ensure higher compliance with follow-up sterilization appointments if the adoption was formalized post-surgery (59) and achieve a similar result that adoption prior to spay-neuter surgery accomplishes: reducing the need for placement in a foster caregiver's home and acclimating the puppy sooner to the environment in which it will be living. Previous research has indicated the behavioral benefits of early exposure to people, objects, and experiences for dogs (60) while the effects of pediatric and early neutering on canine physical and behavioral health have become points of debate within the veterinary community (61). ...
Article
Full-text available
Each year, millions of dogs enter thousands of animal shelters across the United States. Life in the shelter can be stressful, and one type of intervention that improves dogs' experience is human interaction, particularly stays in foster homes. Prior research has demonstrated that fostering can reduce dogs' cortisol and increase their resting activity. Despite these benefits, little is understood about the utilization of foster caregiving in animal shelters, and even less so during a crisis. On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization deemed the coronavirus outbreak a worldwide pandemic, and subsequently a nationwide emergency was declared in the United States. Nearly all states issued stay-at-home orders to curb the spread of the virus. During this time, media outlets reported increased interest in the adoption and fostering of shelter pets. This study explores canine foster caregiving at 19 US animal shelters during the first 4 months of the COVID-19 pandemic. In our investigation, we found that shelters' utilization of foster caregiving increased from March to April 2020 but returned to initial pandemic levels by June 2020. Slightly less than two-fifths of foster caregivers were community members with no prior relationship with the shelter, and these caregivers were over four times more likely to adopt their fostered dogs than those with a pre-existing relationship to the shelter. Individuals fostering with the intention to adopt, in fact, adopted their dogs in nearly three-quarters of those instances. With regards to shelters' available resources, we found that very low-resource shelters relied more heavily on individuals with prior relationships to provide foster caregiving while very high-resource shelters more often recruited new community members. We also found that our lowest resourced shelters transferred more dogs out of their facilities while more resourced shelters rehomed dogs directly to adopters. To our knowledge, these findings represent the first in-depth reporting about dog fostering in US animal shelters and, more specifically, foster caregiving during the COVID-19 pandemic. In total, they provide greater understanding of how monetary and human resources were utilized to affect the care and ultimately, the outcomes of shelter dogs during this time.
... For companion dogs, interaction with conspecifics is primarily controlled by the human, who determines with whom or even if the dog is allowed to interact. Owners of puppies are frequently advised to socialize their dog with other dogs (Gazzano et al., 2008;Howell et al., 2015), but owners are often cautious about allowing off-leash interactions with other dogs before completing primary vaccinations (Kinsman et al., 2022). Withholding a puppy from interacting with other puppies or dogs can lead to problems with intraspecific aggression later in life, although this does not seem to be a strong predictor of such problems (Appleby et al., 2002;Casey et al., 2013). ...
Article
Full-text available
Over the past two centuries, the typical life of dogs has changed dramatically, especially in the Global North. Dogs have moved into human homes, becoming human companions. In many respects, this change seems to have led to improvements in dog welfare. However, the shift into family homes from the free-roaming lifestyle characteristic of dogs as they lived and co-evolved with humans in the past, has created a typically more confined and isolated lifestyle for dogs. In addition, over the same period, selective breeding of dogs, largely driven by human aesthetic ideals and concepts of breed purity, has transformed dog populations. In this discussion paper, based on a narrative literature review, we compare the welfare of companion dogs with that of modern village dogs. We adopt this comparison because dogs have lived in ways resembling village dog life for most of their history. As such, the comparison may serve as a good basis for assessing the effects of the ‘petification’ of dogs. We argue that compared to the typical village dog, the typical modern suburban or urban companion dog experiences good welfare in a number of respects. This is especially the case when it comes to security, satisfaction of nutritional needs (though companion dogs have problems with a high prevalence of obesity), and proper veterinary care. However, in other ways the modern companion dog often suffers from a range of human-created challenges leading to poor welfare. We examine two key challenges for companion dogs: 1) unrealistic social demands that can lead to anxiety, depression, and aggression, and 2) ill devised breeding schemes that result in breeding-related diseases for many companion dogs.
... Messages vary broadly but are commonly based on the assumption that dog bites can be prevented by correctly interpreting a dog's behaviour or not provoking a bite with an incorrect approach to a dog. 32 Other educational messages and/or policies focus on the importance of puppy sourcing from appropriate breeders, early socialisation (the process of introducing a puppy to new experiences), 33 or on the importance of exercising a dog, to prevent aggression and other behavioural issues. 34 Dog training programmes also exist in NZ and are at times accompanied by the introduction of medication or a change in diet in dogs with behavioural issues including dog aggression. ...
Article
Background The prevention of dog bites is an increasingly important public health topic, as the incidence of serious injury continues to rise. Objectives To evaluate the effectiveness of interventions to prevent dog bites and aggression. Methods Online databases were searched (PubMed, Cochrane Library, Embase and Google Scholar), using the search terms: dog/s, canine, canis, kuri, bite/s, bitten, aggression, attack, death, fatal, mortality, injury/ies, prevention, intervention , for studies between 1960 and 2021. All study designs were considered. Outcomes of interest were the incidence of dog bites or dog aggression. Non-English studies, and those without full-text access were excluded. Results Forty-three studies met the review criteria, including 15 observational and 27 interventional studies. Fifteen studies investigating dog-control legislation, including leash laws, stray dog control and infringements indicated this can reduce dog bite rates. Breed-specific legislation had less of an effect. Six studies investigating sterilisation, showed while this may reduce dog bites through a reduction in the dog population, the effect on dog aggression was unclear. An alcohol reduction programme showed a significant reduction in dog bite rates in one study. Seven studies assessing educational approaches found that intensive adult-directed education may be effective, with one study showing child-directed education was not effective. Eight studies on dog training (two police-dog related), and six evaluating dog medication or diet were generally low quality and inconclusive. Conclusions Multiple strategies including effective engagement with indigenous communities and organisations will be required to reduce dog-bites and other incidents involving dog aggression. This review provides some evidence that legislated dog control strategies reduce dog bite rates. Available evidence suggests greater restrictions should be made for all dogs, rather than based on breed alone. Due to a burden of child injury, protection of children should be a focus of legislation and further investigations. Prevention strategies in children require redirection away from a focus on child-directed education and future research should investigate the effectiveness of engineering barriers and reporting strategies.
... There are mixed reports in the scientific literature on the potential impact of attendance at puppy classes on adult dog behaviour. A review by Howell and colleagues in 2015 [38] suggested that attendance at puppy classes did not necessarily confer any benefit, although the authors postulated that the degree of benefit was likely a reflection on how the classes were operated. A large UK-based study of dog owners (n = 3897) demonstrated that attendance at puppy classes was associated with a decreased likelihood of dogs displaying aggression towards unfamiliar people both inside and outside the home by 1.4and 1.6-fold, respectively [39]. ...
Article
Full-text available
The UK recorded sharp rises in puppy purchasing during the 2020 phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, with many first-time dog owners purchasing puppies to improve their mental health during this challenging period. Government restrictions on movement and social interaction during the pandemic led to animal welfare concerns over puppies’ reduced time-sensitive exposures to key environmental and social stimuli during their critical developmental period. This study aimed to compare demographics, health and early-life experiences of puppies purchased and brought home < 16 weeks of age between 23 March–31 December 2020 (“Pandemic Puppies”), with dogs purchased and brought home < 16 weeks during the same date period in 2019 (“2019 puppies”). An online survey of UK-based puppy owners was conducted between 10 November and 31 December 2020 with valid responses representing 5517 puppies (Pandemic Puppies: n = 4369; 2019 puppies: n = 1148). Multivariable logistic regression modelling revealed that Pandemic Puppies were less likely to have attended puppy training classes (67.9% 2019 vs. 28.9% 2020; p < 0.001) or had visitors to their home (94.5% 2019 vs. 81.8% 2020; p < 0.001) aged < 16 weeks compared with 2019 puppies. Fewer Pandemic Puppies underwent veterinary checks prior to purchase than 2019 puppies (2019: 91.3% vs. 2020: 87.4%; p < 0.001), but more were sold with a passport (2019: 4.1% vs. 2020: 7.1%; p < 0.001). Pandemic Puppies were significantly more likely to be ‘Designer Crossbreeds’ (2019: 18.8% vs. 2020: 26.1%; p < 0.001) and less likely to be Kennel Club registered than 2019 puppies (2019: 58.2% vs. 2020: 46.2%; p < 0.001). Greater support from veterinary and animal behavioural professionals is likely needed to ameliorate the health and behavioural impacts of growing up in a pandemic upon this vulnerable population.
... Together with primary and juvenile phases, the socialization period (also known as sensitive period) in dogs is regarded as a key time window (3-14 weeks of age) to the development and maintenance of long-lasting human relationships, since they start learning how to interact with their mothers and littermates and cope with stressful events (14,15). Accordingly, young puppies rear in isolated environments, frequently engage in "selfplay" (i.e., TC), and are likely to display abnormal behaviors. ...
Article
Full-text available
Compulsive disorder is a debilitating condition affecting both humans and animals, characterized by intrusive thoughts and recurring out-of-place behaviors. Among them, tail chasing might represent one of the most common traits in compulsive dogs. Herein, we reported the case of a 7-year-old intact male German Shepherd mixed-breed dog, presenting with tail chasing behavior. He underwent a first behavioral evaluation 1 year before (at the age of 6), when he injured himself with severe wounds at level of the tail and left thigh. To avoid any specific suffering and increase his physical health, of course, the study was carried out through an interdisciplinary approach, employing a veterinary behaviorist and a rehabilitating dog instructor. Three months after pharmacological treatment with fluoxetine and α-s1 casozepine, associated with a behavioral recovery program, the owner reported an improvement of compulsive events in his dog, in terms of intensity and frequency. Interestingly, over the following 3 months, the dog did not experience any new tail chasing episodes.
... They found that the handled pups showed more locomotion in an isolation test at 8 weeks of age and were calmer and more emotionally stable than the non-handled pups. Overall, review of the literature on early experience in pups suggest that early experience can have a significant effect on behavior providing that it is sustained for several weeks, up to and including the socialization period (Fox and Stelzner, 1966;Hubrecht, 1995;Howell et al., 2015;Vaterlaws-Whiteside and Hartmann, 2017). ...
Article
Early Neurological Stimulation (ENS) has been defined as the application of five specific brief daily manipulations to pups from birth until 2 to 3 weeks of age (Battaglia, 2009). This approach has been adopted by many kennels and promoted as a means to improve the future performance of working dogs. Although there is ample evidence that enrichment and socialization have a positive impact on adult behavior in dogs, there is no evidence ENS in and of itself has any lasting effect on dog behavior. Since the purported benefits are large and the required manipulations are minor, we sought: a) to evaluate the effects of ENS on self-confidence, motivation, and aggressive/defensive behavior in pups from 2 months of age until 12 months; and b) to determine whether ENS increased the probability of dogs being considered as suitable for further training as working dogs. We used a split-litter design where half of the pups received the ENS manipulations, and the other half were a control group that was simply held for the same amount of time required by the ENS manipulations. Our results indeed show that the ENS treated dogs are more likely to be accepted for such training than were the control pups but that differences in behavior only appeared at testing on months 10 and 12. We suggest two reasons for our results. First, immediately after the ENS manipulations, the ENS pups probably were a bit more socialized than the control pups. This resulted in the caregivers spending more time with the ENS pups which further increased the discrepancy in socialization between the ENS and control pups. Second, since the caregivers were aware of the ENS manipulation their expectations resulted in more positive interactions with the pups resulting in improved behavior; a phenomenon known as the Pygmalion effect.
... We identified 2 age classes (immature subjects <1 year; adult subjects !1 year). This choice relies on the fact that dogs reach their full size at $1 year of age (Howell et al. 2015;Geiger et al. 2016). When subjects belonging to the same age-class played together, the dyad was classified as "age-matched." ...
Article
Full-text available
Dogs engage in play behavior at every age and the play bow is their most iconic playful posture. However, the function of this posture is still under debate. Here, we selected the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog as a model breed to clarify the function of the play bow. We analyzed frame-by-frame 118 sessions of 24 subjects and recorded 76 play bow events. We found that all the play bows were performed in the visual field of the playmate suggesting that the sender takes into account the attentional state of the receiver when releasing the signal. By drawing survival curves and using log-rank test we found that play bow was mainly performed during a short pause in an ongoing session and that its performance triggered the playmate’s reaction again. These findings show that play bow functions in restoring the partner motivation to play. Finally, by using a sequential analysis and a generalized mixed model, we found no evidence supporting the metacommunicative function of the play bow. The signal did not necessarily precede a contact offensive behavior (e.g., play biting, play pushing) and it was not affected by the level of asymmetry of the play session. In conclusion, in Czechoslovakian Wolfdogs play bow can be considered a visual signal useful to maintain the motivation to play in the receiver. Therefore, we suggest that the mismatched number of play bows emitted by the two players in a given session can be predictive of their different motivation to play.
... Puppyhood socialization also influenced behavior, with more socialized dogs being less insecure but more sociable and trainable. Previous studies have also described this association between puppyhood socialization and adult behavior [59,63,79]. Fear of noises, aggressiveness/dominance, and training focus correlated positively with age, while energy level, general fearfulness, and sociability correlated negatively with age, as reported previously [44,46,56,59,63,65,68,[80][81][82]. ...
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Personality traits, especially neuroticism, strongly predict psychopathology. The domestic dog ( Canis lupus familiaris Linnaeus, 1758) is used as a natural model for psychiatric disorders, but the similarity between dog and human personality and the association between dog personality and unwanted behavioral traits, such as fearfulness, aggressiveness, and impulsivity/inattention, remain unknown. This study utilized structural equation modeling (SEM) with survey data of 11,360 dogs to examine the associations and correlations between seven personality and ten unwanted behavioral traits. Personality traits included insecurity, energy, training focus, aggressiveness/dominance, human sociability, dog sociability, and perseverance. Unwanted behavioral traits included fearfulness, noise sensitivity, fear of surfaces/heights, separation anxiety, barking, stranger-directed aggression, owner-directed aggression, dog-directed aggression, hyperactivity/impulsivity, and inattention. We first fitted confirmatory factor models for the unwanted behavioral traits and the best model grouped unwanted behaviors into four latent traits: fear-related behavior, fear-aggression, aggression, and impulsivity/inattention and used this structure in the subsequent SEM model. Especially, insecurity, which resembles the human neuroticism trait, was strongly associated with unwanted behavior, paralleling the association between neuroticism and psychopathology. Similarly, training focus, resembling conscientiousness, was negatively related to impulsivity/inattention, and aggressiveness/dominance was associated with aggressive behaviors, resembling associations of conscientiousness and agreeableness with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and aggression-related psychopathology, respectively. These results indicate that dog personality traits resemble human personality traits, suggesting that their neurological and genetic basis may also be similar and making the dog a suitable animal model for human behavior and psychiatric disorders.
... Improper behavior may be strengthened accidentally and unknowingly, also during conscious, as the guardian might think, training with a clicker. If the dog's praise occurs too long after the desired behavior, the owner may unwillingly reinforce the following one, thus strengthening unwanted behaviors [63]. Research conducted in recent years also suggests that significantly fewer behavioral problems were shown in dogs that were trained solely through rewards, compared to dogs that were trained using only some form of punishment or a combination of both. ...
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Aggression as a behavior is not always desirable, often ends in abandonment and/or euthanasia. However, it is possible to prevent the occurrence of unwanted aggression in domestic dogs. Aggression is not a fully understood phenomenon. In recent years, many studies have focused on the influence of diet and physiology (including the endocrine system) on the emergence of behavioral disorders. In particular, the emphasis was put on nutritional additives such as fatty acids, amino acids, and probiotics. In addition, the possibility of using neurocognition in the observation of abnormal behavior in dogs has also been discussed, which may allow for a more detailed determination of the basis of aggressive behavior in dogs. In this review, the concepts related to aggression and its potential causes have been gathered. In addition, the possible influence of diet and hormones on aggression in dogs has been discussed, as well as the application of neurocognition in the possibility of its diagnosis
... Stimuli and experiences to which puppies are exposed daily in the home are enough to provide them with adequate socialization. From the socialization period (the socialization period of development and maturation of senses lasts until approximately 12-14 weeks according to Scott and Fuller 1965 [75]) and throughout the enrichment period, dog owners should warrant safe exposure to different experiences, objects, animals, and people, while ensuring that the puppy enjoys these experiences and is not alarmed by them [76]. ...
Article
During the past decade, the field of human-animal interaction(s) research has been characterized by a significant increase in scientific findings. These data have contributed to our current understanding of how humans may benefit from contact with animals. However, the animal experience of these interactions is still an under-researched area. This paper addresses the welfare of dogs who participate in animal-assisted interventions (AAIs) to improve health in human recipients. This paper builds on previous work by Glenk (2017) and provides an updated review of the literature on therapy dog welfare published from 2017-2021. New advances in scientific methodology, such as the determination of salivary oxytocin, breath rate and tympanic membrane temperature, are analyzed regarding their value and limitations for research in AAIs. Moreover, welfare-related social and environmental factors (e.g., freedom of choice, exploration of novel environments, inequity aversion, individual development, working experience, relationship with handler and handler skills) that profoundly influence dog perception and well-being are reviewed and discussed. Accounting for the globally increasing interest and the number of dogs utilized in AAIs, safeguarding therapy dog well-being, and identifying situations, circumstances and protocols that may challenge animal welfare remains an emerging and crucial area of scientific effort.
... Puppy training classes in veterinary clinics can be a good practice for socializing and adapting a puppy to the environment and standard procedures in a veterinary clinic. The second important role of such classes is the education of owners in order to help them to accurately assess behavioral signs of stress in dogs in daily life, in the waiting room or at a veterinarian's appointment (Chmelíková et al., 2020;Denenberg and Landsberg, 2008;González-Martínez et al., 2019;Howell et al., 2015;Mariti et al., 2015). ...
Article
Stress has a significant impact on the health and well-being of dogs and can seriously affect the quality of daily life, veterinary clinics procedures and shelters routine. That means veterinary specialists need to be armed with valid and convenient tools to assess their patients’ stress levels, both behavioral and physiological. For this review we analyzed 128 articles in order to summarize methods of stress assessment in different clinical and experimental environments, as well as methods to alleviate stress. We have also identified the most common forms of stress-related behavior in various situations. Stress in dogs seems to be well studied, but we have not found any universal quantitative and qualitative indicators of stress, nor clear reference intervals even for such a basic stress hormone as cortisol, nor standard generally accepted protocols for the prevention, control and correction of stress in pets. That means an individual approach is necessary for each case. Analysis of the animal's behavior during a veterinary appointment together with collecting a detailed patient history and correct selection and appropriate combination of different physiological stress markers is the most reliable way to interpret psychological state of the dog and make a more accurate diagnosis.
... These findings, overall, are encouraging, although they also highlight a continued need for improvement. What constitutes a minimum to optimal amount of socialization in dogs has yet to be determined [31,32]. However, introducing stimuli in a positive and gradual way, especially during the early stages of life, has been reported to help minimize the development of fear-related behaviors [33,34]. ...
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Understanding the behavioral welfare of dogs in commercial breeding kennels (CBKs) is important for improving breeders’ management practices as well as dog welfare. In the current study, breeding dogs from CBKs were exposed to novel stimuli to evaluate their behavioral responses, with emphasis on indicators of fear. Subjects were presented with a standard stranger-approach test, a traffic cone, and a realistic dog statue. Sixty dogs were exposed to the three stimuli and behavioral responses were scored using an ethogram developed for this study. Dogs spent significantly more time investigating the environment, staying further away from the stimulus, and they took longer to approach and investigate when presented with the cone than with the dog statue or stranger (p < 0.01). These findings suggest that the cone elicited more fear-related behaviors than the dog statue and stranger. Given these results, in addition to socializing their dogs to unfamiliar people and other dogs within their kennels, commercial breeders should be encouraged to increase the exposure of their dogs to more diverse novel stimuli to reduce non-social fear and support the welfare of dogs while they reside in the kennel and when they transition to new homes.
... Although no study has been published on the subject, early socialization is most likely important to reduce stress around humans and other pets in ferrets, 19 as recognized in other species. 40 SUMMARY Veterinarians should help ferret owners, breeders, and shelters to provide the best environment and social interaction to fulfill ferrets' normal behavior and prevent behavioral disorders. While assessing behavior in ferrets, specific questions should be asked to the owners to have a complete picture of the behavioral pattern and not relaying on the owner's perception. ...
Domestic ferrets (Mustela putorius furo) are common zoologic companion animals and display specific body language and vocalizations. Social interactions, play behavior, and resting periods are important keystone in domestic ferret behavior. Specific housing and environmental enrichment are recommended to preserve the expression of normal behavior and physiology in ferrets. Presence of abnormal behaviors, including aggression, urination and defecation outside the litter box, stereotypies, and absence of play behavior, should be carefully monitored by veterinarians and ferret owners to assess ferret wellness. Specific considerations, such as deafness, poor vision, and hybridation with other mustelids, may play a role in ferret behavior.
Article
In the United Kingdom, companion animal veterinary practices offer in-clinic puppy socialization programs, referred to as “Puppy parties”. Studies examining puppy parties are limited, and minimal data is available on the delivery of these programs. This study aimed to describe the methods and approaches used by UK veterinary professionals providing in-clinic puppy parties. A cross-sectional descriptive survey was distributed via social media and by direct email to veterinary practices known to offer puppy parties on their public domains. Respondents were required to have worked in a UK veterinary practice offering parties or equivalent between January 2010 and March 2019. Descriptive data was collected on participant and practice demographics, puppy eligibility, program structure and environment, the inclusion of canine behavior and training, client education and the effect of COVID-19. All (n=81) respondents were included for analysis. Findings described variation in the structure of in-clinic puppy parties, particularly as they relate to puppy age, class size, and program duration. “Habituation to practice” was the most common reason for delivery (60.5%), with “Monetary gain” the least likely reason (50.6%). Puppy parties commonly began at 8-9 weeks of age (53.1%), and most (77.8%) persisted beyond the sensitive period of socialization (>12 weeks). Where some puppy parties did not permit intra-species interactions (6.2%), others provided the opportunity for socialization through controlled play (53.1%). Program duration ranged from a singular session (28.4%) to cumulative sessions of ≥4 weeks (34.6%). The “1st vaccination of the primary course” was the minimum requirement to attend most parties (75.3%) and deworming was rarely required (24.7%). While behavior topics (87.2%) were commonly discussed, staff generally lacked training and behavior qualifications (65.4%). Finally, all parties were discontinued following COVID-19 restrictions. In conclusion, the results of the study provided a descriptive framework of puppy party programs run by UK veterinary practices. Future researchers may seek to examine which methods used in the delivery of puppy programs best promote canine welfare and behavioral wellness.
Article
In Japan, the importance of problem behaviors in dogs has recently become more widely recognized. Many dogs in Japan are relinquished to shelters because of problematic behaviors, and anxiety-related disorders are one of the main causes of such behaviors. In many cases, dogs are euthanized because of behaviors associated with anxiety-related disorders. In the present study, the effects of attending puppy classes, attending training school sessions, living with other dogs, and the presence of children while dogs were puppies on later anxious behaviors were investigated. Questionnaires were distributed to dog owners and data pertaining to 307 dogs were obtained. Anxious behaviors in response to storms (hereafter referred to categorically as “storm”) and fireworks were also investigated. There were significant associations between storm and age, storm and attending training school, fireworks and age, and fireworks and attending training school. In multiple comparison testing, there were significant differences between juvenile dogs and other groups with regard to fireworks, and reduced anxious behaviors were significantly associated with training school attendance in the storm and fireworks subgroups. The results of this study suggest that attending training school reduced some anxiety-related behaviors. Notably, however, we did not investigate the effects of the regularity or frequency of training school attendance, or the content of such training sessions in this study. Therefore, the effects of these things on anxiety-related behaviors require further investigation.
Article
The success of the dog as a companion animal has undeniably led to a shift in dog breeding practices. While effects of inbreeding or large-scale breeding have given rise to numerous studies about potentially related health issues, it remains unclear to what extent behavioural development of dogs is influenced. By investigating the environment of puppies while at the breeder, the authors aimed to make an inventory of current practices regarding management, socialisation and environmental learning and subsequently to identify potential differences between breeder types. The cross-sectional study, conducted during 2016, revealed considerable variability in environment among dog breeders. Small-scale breeders, and especially occasional breeders (less than 10 adult dogs on-site) provided most enrichment, both social and non-social, by, for instance, providing more outdoor access for pregnant dams and puppies or by providing access to visitors more freely. Environmental stimuli were less controlled in occasional breeders, raising the debate about quantity versus quality of stimuli at a young age. Large-scale breeders declared to screen potential owners less intensely and time to advise them was limited. To the authors’ knowledge, this is the first study that compares a large number of environmental factors between the different dog breeding categories.
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The COVID-19 pandemic affects human health, movement and behaviour, and this may consequently influence the behaviour and health of their pets. The aim of this study was to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on pet dogs’ behaviour, as reported by their owners, as well as the owners’ experience in relation to their dogs. We hypothesized that dog owners who underwent lockdown or quarantine would indicate more behavioural changes in their dogs and experience support in having a dog during the pandemic. An international online survey asked dog owners questions regarding their household, the dog, and dog-related changes during the pandemic. A total of 688 surveys, collected May-June 2020, were analysed. Respondents were from across Europe (87%), the Americas (9%), and Asia and Australia (together 4%). Data were analysed in GLMM models with a binary distribution and country included as random variable. The main predictor variable was whether the respondent experienced lockdown (300 respondents, 44%), quarantine (76 respondents, 11%) or no restrictions (312 respondents, 45%). Respondents who underwent lockdown or quarantine were 1.8 times more likely to report behavioural changes in their dogs (p = 0.02), with more negative behavioural changes in the dogs reported by respondents in lockdown than expected by chance. However, overall behavioural changes were more often positive (30%) than negative (24%). Respondents in lockdown were 2.6 times more likely to report health changes in their dogs (p = 0.02). The dog was perceived as a source of support during the pandemic: 65% of the respondents indicated reduced tension due to their dog and 47% indicated that the ability to walk the dog outside was another benefit. Advantages were reported more by respondents in lockdown and quarantine as compared to respondents who did not face these restrictions (p < 0.001). Difficulties in dog care were increased for respondents who experienced lockdown or quarantine (p < 0.01) and those who had no garden as compared to those who did (p < 0.001). One-third of the respondents took dog-related measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, and this was associated with more behavioural changes and more difficulties. In conclusion, lockdown, and to a lesser extent quarantine, may influence the dogs’ behaviour and health, or the owners’ awareness of it, and can contribute to a perceived tension-reduction in the owners.
Chapter
Our relationship with dogs runs thousands of years deep. Today, we might know dogs intimately as members of our human family, but we can also know and consider dogs on their own terms, as members of Canis familiaris , with a unique evolutionary history and species‐specific characteristics and needs. This chapter is a resource for all types of dog knowers and caretakers. It relies heavily on empirical research to anchor readers in the foundations of canine behavior—such as dog behavioral development, normal dog behavior, factors influencing behavior, and relationships with people—and considers how these topics affect dogs of all ages and backgrounds who find themselves in the shelter environment.
Chapter
Our own experiences and scientific evidence demonstrate the significant positive impact therapy animals have on us, including our physical and emotional well-being. For the safety of all animals involved in animal-assisted interventions (AAI), and the humans they interact with, the well-being of therapy animals must also be carefully evaluated. The physical well-being of a therapy animal is paramount for its welfare, as well as the welfare of the humans that benefit from the animal interaction. Appropriate preventative and wellness care can reduce the occurrence of disease in animals and allow for a longer, better quality of life.
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Previous research showed that behavior problems are a major reason for relinquishing adopted dogs to animal shelters, and it is possible that undesirable behaviors also affect the success of adoptions of retired racing greyhounds. The present study aimed to measure behaviors of ex-racing greyhounds adopted through the Greyhound Adoption Center Italy, as reported by 176 owners. Desirable behaviors were reported by a large percentage of participants as occurring always or almost always, such as being easy to manage (90.9%), being clean in the home (89.2%), and being good with children (89.2%). The only desirable behavior that was reported as occurring always or almost always by less than half of participants was being good with other animals (48.9%). A few undesirable behaviors were expressed by more than 40% of dogs at least sometimes. These were predatory behavior toward cats (79.6%), aggression toward unfamiliar animals (61.9%), fear of thunderstorms (46.6%), and following the owner around the house (69.3%). Several participants indicated that the problematic behavior had improved over time, and very few reported that it appeared or worsened long after adoption. A principal components analysis revealed 6 factors for undesirable behaviors. Few, and generally weak, significant correlations were found between factors and owner features or dog management practices, and only social fear (r = −0.180, P = 0.017) and nonsocial fear (r = −0.208, P = 0.006) correlated with overall satisfaction with the dog. In comparison with similar data previously collected in Australia and New Zealand (ANZ), 8 undesirable behaviors were reported to occur more frequently by ANZ owners, and 2 by Italian owners. Predatory behavior toward cats was the only behavior reported as occurring by more than half of the sample at least sometimes among both ANZ and Italian owners. These findings are relevant for associations involved in the rehoming of ex-racing greyhounds and for perspective owners. In addition, the findings should be used to increase awareness about problematic behaviors among people who breed and/or train racing greyhounds.
Book
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Why do dogs behave in the ways that they do? Why did our ancestors tame wolves? How have we ended up with so many breeds of dog, and how can we understand their role in contemporary human society? Explore the answers to these questions and many more in this study of the domestic dog. Building on the strengths of the first edition, this much-anticipated update incorporates two decades of new evidence and discoveries on dog evolution, behavior, training, and human interaction. It includes seven entirely new chapters covering topics such as behavioral modification and training, dog population management, the molecular evidence for dog domestication, canine behavioral genetics, cognition, and the impact of free-roaming dogs on wildlife conservation. It is an ideal volume for anyone interested in dogs and their evolution, behavior and ever-changing roles in society. The ultimate book about the domestic dog, ideal for anyone interested in their evolution, behavior and ever-changing roles in society A new edition of a classic text, presenting the latest research on dog behavior, training, domestication, genetics and cognition Includes seven entirely new chapters by leading experts in the field, incorporating two decades of new evidence and discoveries.
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This article reviews recent research concerning dog-human relationships and how attributes that arise from them can be measured. It highlights the influence of human characteristics on dog behavior, and consequently, the dog-human bond. Of particular importance are the influences of human attitudes and personality. These themes have received surprisingly little attention from researchers. Identifying human attributes that contribute to successful dog-human relationships could assist in the development of a behavioral template to ensure dyadic potential is optimized. Additionally, this article reveals how dyadic functionality and working performance may not necessarily be mutually inclusive. Potential underpinnings of various dog-human relationships and how these may influence dogs' perceptions of their handlers are also discussed. The article considers attachment bonds between humans and dogs, how these may potentially clash with or complement each other, and the effects of different bonds on the dog-human dyad as a whole. We review existing tools designed to measure the dog-human bond and offer potential refinements to improve their accuracy. Positive attitudes and affiliative interactions seem to contribute to the enhanced well-being of both species, as reflected in resultant physiological changes. Thus, promoting positive dog-human relationships would capitalize on these benefits, thereby improving animal welfare. Finally, this article proposes future research directions that may assist in disambiguating what constitutes successful bonding between dogs and the humans in their lives.
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Many companion dogs occupy a privileged position in our society, living closely with human caretakers who go to great lengths to provide for their needs and desires. Others fare less well, being abandoned or killed, many because they are believed to exhibit behaviour problems. The aim in this study was to investigate the frequency of potentially problematic behaviours experienced by a convenience sample of companion dog owners and to establish if the presence of these behaviours was associated with demographic variables, involvement in dog training activities and participation in other dog-human interactions. Potentially problematic behaviours were reported to occur by the 413 adult participants only infrequently, but fell into five factors; disobedience, unfriendliness/aggression, nervousness, anxiety/destructiveness and excitability. Each of these factors was associated with a number of owner and dog characteristics. Engagement in training activities was predictive of lower scores being obtained for many of the behaviours, as well as increased involvement in shared activities. Some of the behaviours, particularly the perceived friendliness of the dog, were also predictive of involvement in shared activities. This confirms that strategies designed to increase participation in dog training activities and promote canine sociability may have significant benefits for both companion dog owners and their dogs.
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Dogs have had a long association with humans and are believed to be the first domesticated animal species. Many breeds of dog exist today which vary considerably in physical appearance and temperament. These differences have arisen primarily from selective pressures imposed by humans to create dogs suitable for various working roles. Nowadays, however, few breeds undertake the work they were once bred for; rather dogs are kept primarily as companions. With differing lifestyles and an increase in urban living it is necessary to identify what constitutes an ideal dog in the present day. This study identifies the characteristics important to the Australian public in their “ideal dog”. To determine this, 877 participants (79.8% female) aged 18–82 years (mean=34.3, SD=14.5) were surveyed. A number of behavioural and physical characteristics were identified as important to Australians. These included dogs being medium sized, short haired, de-sexed, safe with children, fully housetrained, friendly, obedient and healthy. Participants also wanted their ideal dog to come when called, not to escape from their property, to enjoy being petted and to display affection to their owners. Desirable behavioural characteristics were grouped using Principal Component Analysis into five factors, labelled calm/compliant, sociable/healthy, energetic/faithful/protective, socially acceptable, and non-aggressive. Together these accounted for 45.7% of the total variance. Independent-samples t-tests revealed significant differences in importance of the components for men versus women, dog owners versus non-owners and whether participants lived with children or not. Women preferred a dog who is calm/compliant [t(870)=−2.33, P=0.02], sociable/healthy [t(870)=−2.57, P=0.01] and non-aggressive [t(870)=−2.67, P=0.008] while men preferred a dog which is energetic/faithful/protective [t(870)=3.09, P=0.002]. Overall, however there were also many commonalities. Breeding animals able to tolerate the stresses and demands of today's requirements, training them to behave appropriately, and educating pet dog owners about the characteristics of different dogs and the need for realistic expectations about dog behaviour is likely to help reduce the incidence of problem behaviours, such as separation anxiety, destructiveness and aggression. It is also likely to increase owner satisfaction and reduce the number of dogs relinquished to shelters.
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The Regional Shelter Relinquishment Study sponsored by the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy (NCPPSP) is a US research project designed to explore the characteristics of relinquished dogs and cats, their owners, and the reasons for relinquishment. The NCPPSP Regional Shelter Study, which was conducted between February 1995 and April 1996, found that behavioural problems, including aggression toward people or non-human animals, were the most frequently given reasons for canine relinquishment and the second most frequently given reasons for feline relinquishment. No association was found between category of relinquishment (behavioural, mixed, non-behavioural) and gender, number of times mated (males), number of litters (females), purebred status, declaw status, and number of visits to the veterinarian within the past year, for either dogs or cats. Associations were found between category of relinquishment and number of pets in the household, number of pets added to the household, neuter status of female dogs and cats , neuter status of male dogs, training level, age of pet relinquished, length of ownership, and pets acquired from shelters. Associations also were found between the state in which the pet was relinquished and income level of owner.
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The comparison of human related communication skills of socialized canids may help to understand the evolution and the epigenesis of gesture comprehension in humans. To reconcile previously contradicting views on the origin of dogs' outstanding performance in utilizing human gestures, we suggest that dog-wolf differences should be studied in a more complex way. We present data both on the performance and the behaviour of dogs and wolves of different ages in a two-way object choice test. Characteristic behavioural differences showed that for wolves it took longer to establish eye contact with the pointing experimenter, they struggled more with the handler, and pups also bit her more before focusing on the human's signal. The performance of similarly hand-reared 8-week-old dogs and wolves did not differ in utilizing the simpler proximal momentary pointing. However, when tested with the distal momentary pointing, 4-month-old pet dogs outperformed the same aged hand reared wolves. Thus early and intensive socialisation does not diminish differences between young dogs and wolves in behaviour and performance. Socialised adult wolves performed similarly well as dogs in this task without pretraining. The success of adult wolves was accompanied with increased willingness to cooperate. Thus, we provide evidence for the first time that socialised adult wolves are as successful in relying on distal momentary pointing as adult pet dogs. However, the delayed emergence of utilising human distal momentary pointing in wolves shows that these wild canines react to a lesser degree to intensive socialisation in contrast to dogs, which are able to control agonistic behaviours and inhibition of actions in a food related task early in development. We suggest a "synergistic" hypothesis, claiming that positive feedback processes (both evolutionary and epigenetic) have increased the readiness of dogs to attend to humans, providing the basis for dog-human communication.
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To evaluate the effectiveness of dog-appeasing pheromone (DAP) in reducing fear and anxiety in puppies and its effects on training and socialization. Randomized, controlled clinical trial. ANIMALS-45 puppies between 12 to 15 weeks of age at the time of inclusion. Puppies enrolled in puppy classes were randomly allocated to 1 of 4 groups: 2 large-breed groups (1 DAP and 1 placebo group) and 2 small-breed groups (1 DAP and 1 placebo group). The investigator, trainers, and owners were unaware of treatment allocation throughout the study. Classes lasted 8 weeks, and owners were asked to complete a questionnaire before the first lesson and at the end of each lesson thereafter. Data collected included amount of learning and degrees of fear and anxiety for each puppy. Follow-up telephone surveys of owners to obtain information on subsequent socialization of puppies were performed at 1, 3, 6, and 12 months after the classes ended. Dogs in DAP and placebo groups were significantly different with respect to degrees of fear and anxiety; longer and more positive interactions between puppies, including play, were evident in dogs in the DAP groups. Data from follow-up telephone surveys indicated that puppies in the DAP groups were better socialized and adapted faster in new situations and environments, compared with puppies in the placebo groups. When compared with a placebo treatment, DAP was useful in reducing anxiety and fear in puppies during puppy classes and resulted in improved socialization.
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Dogs are more skillful than great apes at a number of tasks in which they must read human communicative signals indicating the location of hidden food. In this study, we found that wolves who were raised by humans do not show these same skills, whereas domestic dog puppies only a few weeks old, even those that have had little human contact, do show these skills. These findings suggest that during the process of domestication, dogs have been selected for a set of social-cognitive abilities that enable them to communicate with humans in unique ways.
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To evaluate associations between retention of dogs in their adoptive homes and attendance at puppy socialization classes and other factors. Epidemiologic survey. 248 adult dogs that were adopted as puppies from a humane society. Owners completed questionnaires regarding demographics, retention of the dogs in the homes, and the dogs' early learning events. Higher retention in the homes was reported for dogs that participated in humane society puppy socialization classes, were female, wore headcollars as puppies, were handled frequently as puppies, were more responsive to commands, slept on or near the owner's bed, or lived in homes without young children. Results suggest several practices that veterinarians may recommend to enhance the likelihood that puppies will remain in their first homes, such as enrolling 7- to 12-week-old puppies in early learning and socialization classes. The lower rate of retention of dogs in homes with children emphasizes the importance of helping owners develop realistic expectations, knowledge, and effective tools to manage interactions between their children and dogs.
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Annually, welfare shelters admit many dogs, including those whose caregivers surrender them or dogs who are strays. This article analyzes admission data from 3 metropolitan Australian shelters. The study collected data for a 1-year period and analyzed them to identify the characteristics of the typical shelter dog; patterns of relinquishment, sales, reclamation and euthanasia; and duration of stay and reasons underlying euthanasia, relinquishment, and postadoptive return. The study tracked more than 20,000 admissions during this period. To facilitate reclamation, the local Code of Practice requires a mandatory holding period for stray dogs; assessment for suitability for rehoming then occurs. Dogs failing the assessment are euthanized. Surrendered dogs can be assessed immediately. The Code of Practice also recommends that unsold dogs be euthanized 28 days postassessment. Typically, shelter dogs in Melbourne are strays, sexually entire, adult, small, and-usually-male. The majority of admissions are reclaimed or sold. Most reclamations occur within 4 days, and postadoptive return rates are low. That current desexing messages do not appear to have reached the owners of stray dogs to the same extent as they have other dog owners is a major finding, suggesting that a targeted education campaign may be required.
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The provision of a socialisation and training programme for dogs can lead to an improvement in the quality of the data that are produced from scientific procedures, and also to an improvement in animal welfare. A reduction in the number of animals needed to produce statistically significant data can result from decreasing the variability of the experimental data. The effects of a dog's behaviour can be a major source of random variability. A well socialised, habituated and trained dog should be calm during experimental procedures and, for example, during an ECG measurement, thus providing good quality data. A fearful, poorly socialised dog may also appear to be well-behaved on an examination table, and during an ECG measurement, because of the freezing response. However, there is likely to be a difference in the level of stress that these two individuals experience during the procedures. The stress response can have an impact on vital physiological parameters, such as heart rate. The variability in these parameters and the behaviour exhibited within a group of socialised, habituated and trained dogs that have been well prepared for experimental procedures, should be less than the variability present within a similar group of dogs that have not been prepared for these procedures. This paper describes two socialisation programmes, which were designed in order to compare the heart rates and behaviour of dogs which had received different degrees of socialisation, habituation and training. The behaviour of small groups of dogs from this study was compared with that of dogs on a standard socialisation programme, by using a simple, reproducible behavioural score scheme. The heart rate of the dogs was also measured. The results showed that there was little difference in heart rate between the groups, but that there were significant differences in the scores for key behaviours. There was evidence of a decrease in the variability of the behavioural scores for the groups of dogs that had undergone an intensive socialisation programme. Therefore, a socialisation programme can have a significant effect on behaviour and welfare, and has the potential to improve the quality of the data that are recorded.
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Since the 1940s, perceived companion animal overpopulation in the United States has been an important issue to the animal welfare community (Moulton, Wright, & Rinky, 1991). This surplus of animals has resulted in millions of dogs and cats being euthanized annually in animal shelters across the country. The nature and scope of this problem have been notoriously difficult to characterize. The number of animal shelters in the United Stares, the demographics of the population of animals passing through them, and the characteristics of per owners relinquishing animals are poorly understood. What portion of these animals are adopted or euthanized, why they are relinquished, and their source of acquisition are all questions for which there have been little data. Consequently, we are no closer to answering the fundamental question of how and why many animals are destroyed each year in shelters (Arkow, 1994).
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The National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy Regional Shelter Survey identified moving as the most often cited of 71 reasons for relinquishing dogs and the 3rd most common reason for relinquishing cats. Most relinquished companion animals were less than 3 years old and female. Dogs were most often intact, whereas cats were most often altered. Friends had given the majority of these companion animals to the relinquishers, who had obtained them at no cost. Most had lived with the relinquishers for less than 2 years. The majority of relinquishers were White and female, and had at least a high school education. Based on the U.S. population age distribution, young adults seem to be using shelters at a significantly higher rate than would be expected. These age groups are also more mobile, according to U.S. Census data. Therefore, educational efforts that target young, potentially mobile adults could decrease the number of animals relinquished.
Article
The main aim of this book is to provide a basis for a complete dog behavioural biology based on concepts derived from contemporary ethology. Thus, dog behaviour is viewed from both functional (evolution and ecology) and mechanistic and developmental points of view. The study of dogs is placed in a comparative context which involves comparison with their ancestors (wolves), as well as with humans with which dogs share their present environment. Instead of advocating a single theory which would explain the emergence of dogs during the last 20,000 years of human evolution, this book gives an overview of present knowledge which has been collected by scientists from various fields. It aims to find novel ways to increase our understanding of this complex evolutionary process by combining different methods originating from different scientific disciplines. This is facilitated by describing complementing knowledge provided by various field of science, including zooarchaeology, cognitive and comparative ethology, human-animal interaction, behaviour genetics, behavioural physiology and development, and behavioural ecology. This interdisciplinary approach to the study of dogs deepens our biological understanding of dog behaviour, but also utilizes this knowledge to reveal secrets to behavioural evolution in general, even with special reference to the human species.
Article
Resources for tackling animal welfare issues are often limited. Obtaining a consensus of expert opinion on the most pressing issues to address is a valuable approach to try to ensure that resources are wisely spent. In this study, seven independent experts in a range of disciplines (including veterinary medicine, animal behaviour and welfare science and ethics) were consulted on the relative prioritisation of welfare issues impacting companion dogs in Great Britain. Experts first anonymously ranked the priority of 37 welfare issues, pre-defined from a literature review and an earlier published survey. In a subsequent two-day panel workshop, experts refined these issues into 25 composite groups and used specific criteria to agree their relative priorities as a Welfare Problem (WP; incorporating numbers of dogs affected, severity, duration and counter-balancing benefits) and a Strategic Priority (SP; a combination of WP and tractability). Other criteria — anthropogenicity, ethical significance and confidence in the issue-relevant evidence — were also discussed by the panel. Issues that scored highly for both WP and SP were: inappropriate husbandry, lack of owner knowledge, undesirable behaviours, inherited disease, inappropriate socialisation and habituation and conformation-related disorders. Other welfare issues, such as obese and overweight dogs, were judged as being important for welfare (WP) but not strategic priorities (SP), due to the expert-perceived difficulties in their management and resolution. This information can inform decisions on where future resources can most cost-effectively be targeted, to bring about the greatest improvement in companion dog welfare in Great Britain.
Article
Behavioural signs of fear or anxiety on exposure to noises in owned domestic dogs have been suggested in clinical studies to be common and a significant welfare concern. In this study two approaches were taken to investigate the occurrence of, and risk factors for, these behaviours: a postal survey of dog owners to investigate general demographic factors (n = 3897), and a structured interview of a sub-set of owners to gather more detailed information (n = 383). Almost half of owners in the structured interview reported that their dog showed at least one behavioural sign typical of fear when exposed to noises, even though only a quarter had reported their dog as ‘fearful’ in the general survey. This difference indicates that even where owners recognise behavioural responses to noises, they may not interpret these as associated with altered subjective state in their dog. The difference in reported prevalence between the studies highlights the importance of methodological approach in owner questionnaire studies investigating behavioural signs.
Article
Between 4 weeks and 6 months of age, dogs were subjected to a battery of behavioural tests. The ability of these tests to predict fearfulness, activity and learning ability of the dogs when adult was assessed. Consistent individual differences in fearfulness were apparent at about 8 weeks of age, and the ability to predict adult fearfulness increased with age. The most useful tests involved responses to a strange person, a strange dog, a strange place and certain unusual objects. There appears to be genetic variation between dogs in fearfulness when young, but genetic selection against fearfulness would be more accurate if carried out in adult dogs rather than in young dogs. Consistent individual differences in activity from 4 weeks of age were found, but this behaviour correlated poorly with the activity of the dogs when adult. Puppies responded to fear by inhibiting movement. None of the tests used predicted the dogs' performance on specific learning tasks.
Article
15 adult German shepherd dogs were studied with a help of 7 tests on various behaviour patterns. The experimental animals were tested twice, before and after special object-oriented play exercises. The purpose of a three months’ training was to develop the dogs. retrieval and searching abilities as well as self-confidence in various situations. The results showed that the dogs, human-isolated in the juvenile period, were incapable of playing a joint object-oriented game with the man, and a real bond between the animals and their masters could not be established in adulthood. In strange situations, besides, those dogs expressed unconfident and ‘wild-like’ behaviour, which could not be beneficially influenced by training in adulthood. A group of the dogs that had had enough human contacts in the juvenile period was studied. Their retrieval, searching abilities and confident behaviour in strange situations significantly improved after purposeful and intensive play exercises. In addition, according to the obtained results, it was concluded that infancy and capability to play object-oriented games with the man was inherited (particularly in German shepherds). An expression of that kind of behaviour and character of the play, however, was dependent on socialisation in the juvenile period and intensive retrieval play exercises in adulthood.
Article
This study examined 60 juvenile Labrador (LR) and golden retrievers (GR) and their puppy raisers (PR) to determine the effect of training (n = 20) and socialization (n = 20) compared with a control group (n = 20). These potential guide dogs were randomly allocated into 3 groups of 20 (2 treatment groups and 1 control). Training sessions ran for 6 weeks (only 5 of which were attended by the dogs), and socialization groups ran for 5 weeks (all of which were attended by the dogs). Training involved teaching a bridge (clicker); basic obedience behaviors including sit, drop, loose-leash walking, and recalls; as well as desensitization to handling, discussions about anxiety and environmental enrichment, and play time. Socialization classes covered the same discursive material, but without the training and bridge components. The control group comprised other pups and their PRs within the guide dog puppy-raising program but who were not given access to these additional classes. Like the dogs in both the treatments, these control dogs also underwent the Guide Dog NSW/ACT program but received no direct intervention through the current study.The authors hypothesized that training and socialization would improve the success rates of dogs in the guide dog program. However, the treatments did not influence the rate of success nor the likelihood of PRs raising a subsequent pup. The interaction between color and sex had some effect on success rates; yellow female LRs had the greatest chance of success, and female GRs had the lowest chance of success. This difference may warrant further investigation in a broader study to assist in decisions as to which breeds and sexes are most successful in guide dog organizations.
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In recent years much interest has been focused on early experiences and numerous studies have been carried out in order to understand their effects on the behaviour of adult animals. The aim of this preliminary study was to assess the effects of early gentling and early environment on the emotional stability of puppies. Forty-three dogs (16 females and 27 males) from seven litters were used. Four of these litters (in total 23 puppies) were raised in a professional breeding kennel, while the remaining litters lived in their owner's home, in a family atmosphere. Half of every litter was gently handled daily from the 3rd day postpartum until the 21st. In order to assess the puppies’ emotionality, an isolation test followed by an arena test were conducted on every puppy at the age of 8 weeks. Video recording of the tests allowed the measurement of each puppy's vocalization and exploratory activity. Data were analysed with the Newmann–Keuls’ test comparing four groups: non-handled puppies raised in family (NHF); handled puppies raised in family (HF); non-handled puppies raised in a professional breeding kennel (NHB); handled puppies raised in a professional breeding kennel (HB).The results suggest that early environment strongly influences the emotional stability of puppies when put in isolation: latency to the first yelp was longer (p
Article
While most human–canine relationships are very fulfilling others fail, resulting in a large number of animals being abandoned or relinquished to animal shelters each year. This paper reviews our current understanding of the canine relinquishment and adoption process, with the aim of identifying those areas in which research is incomplete or absent. In order to achieve this aim, the process of canine ownership, relinquishment and adoption is broken down into a number of logical stages, which are then evaluated separately. The areas reviewed include the reasons why people acquire dogs, factors involved in their relinquishment, the effects of shelter admission upon canine behaviour, the evaluation of a dog’s potential for adoption, characteristics of adopters, factors influencing a prospective adopter’s choice and problems which may be experienced post-adoption. The review identifies deficiencies in our current knowledge and indicates valid directions for future research.
Article
It is not capacity that explains the differences that exist between individuals, because most seem to have far more capacity than they will ever use. The differences that exist between individuals seem to be related to something else. Researchers have studied these phenomena and have looked for new ways to stimulate individuals to improve their natural abilities. Some of the methods discovered have produced lifelong effects. Today, many of the differences between individuals can now be explained by the use of early stimulation methods, socialization, and enrichment experiences. For example, early life has been found to be a time when the physical immaturity of an organism is susceptible and responsive to a restricted but important class of stimuli. Because of its importance, many studies have focused on the first year of life. Newborn pups are different from adult dogs in several respects. When born, pups' eyes are closed, their temperature is subnormal, and their digestive system has a limited capacity, requiring periodic stimulation by their dam, who routinely licks them to promote digestion. Other mammals such as mice and rats are also born with limitations, and they also have been found to show a similar sensitivity to the effects of early stimulation. Studies show that removing them from their nest for 3 min each day during the first 5–10 days of life causes body temperatures to fall below normal. This mild form of stress is sufficient to stimulate hormonal, adrenal, and pituitary systems. When tested later as adults, these same animals were better able to withstand stress than littermates who were not exposed to the same early stress exercises. As adults, they responded to stress in “a graded” fashion, whereas their nonstressed littermates responded in an “all or nothing way.” The results show that early stimulation can have positive results but must be used with caution. Too much stress can cause pathologic adversities rather than physical or psychologic superiority. Socialization and enrichment experiences have also been found to make important differences in the development of the adult dog.
Article
Most pet dogs in urban Australia are confined to their owners’ property in a suburban backyard. Despite the literature on the effect of captive environments on both farm and zoo animals, there is little objective information on the effects of confining pet dogs. The prevalence of behavioural problems in pet dogs may be an indication that dogs are not well adapted to some backyard environments. The aim of this study was to examine the effect of being confined in backyards on dog behaviour by observing the behaviour of 55 Labrador retrievers in various backyard settings. The behaviour of the dogs was recorded for 48h and the social and physical environment of the dogs quantified. Time budgets of dog behaviour were developed and relationships between behaviour and environmental factors examined. Factors related to dog activity included the amount of foliage in the yard, the number of transitions the dog made between locations and whether the dog was kept inside at night, but also had a kennel provided in the yard. Factors related to problem behaviours, such as digging and chewing, included whether the dog was gold coloured and had no formal training, the dog being more active and the dog performing a high number of transitions between locations in the backyard. It is suggested that it may be the type of relationship with the owner that affects Labrador behaviour, rather than factors such as size of the yard, having another dog present or time spent with the dog.
Article
As a consequence of their living close to humans as pets, for working purposes or as laboratory animals, dogs give evidence of behavioural variability, stemming from their innate capacities as well as from environmental influences. This paper reviews the behavioural tests used for dogs—tests which serve as an evaluation tool and those which serve as a means of classifying individual animals. In search of a consensus and standardisation, some material and methodological aspects of behavioural testing in dogs were collected. Behavioural test parameters that were taken into account were the terminology of the temperament concept, the test quality requirements and their implementation in the literature, the characteristics of the dog tested (source, breed, age, sex), the characteristics of the social and environmental stimuli used to elicit canine behaviour, the characteristics of the behavioural variables collected and the characteristics of the physical and physiological concomitant data obtained while assessing the behaviour. This review brings to light a lack of consensus regarding all these parameters. The procedures of testing are often particular to the investigator and thus unique. We emphasised this statement by comparing six research studies using a ball, carried out over 40 years. In view of all these differences in methodology, standardisation is suggested through the creation of a reference manual.
Article
The behavioural effects of a puppy socialisation training program were evaluated in 58 purebred and 10 crossbreed puppies. Each subject was randomly allocated to one of five groups: Socialisation plus Training (S & T, n=12), Socialisation (n=10), Training (n=13), Feeding (n=12) and Control (n=11). The S & T group received a full training program which included both operant training for commands (come, sit, stay, drop and heel) and social interaction with other puppies during four, weekly 1 h sessions. Subjects in the training or socialisation groups received either the commands or socialisation aspects of the program. The feeding group received food items equivalent in amount to those given to the previous three groups during weekly attendance at the training centre. The control group only attended the centre for rating. A series of rating scales assessed the puppies' responses to novel, social, handling and commands stimuli. All puppies were tested prior to the program (baseline), after the second and fourth sessions, and 4 to 6 months after completion of the program. No groups differed significantly at baseline on any of the scales. Puppies in the S & T and training groups received significantly higher ratings for their responses to commands at 2 and 4 weeks. There were no significant group effects on any of the other scales. Although the program was successful in training the puppies on commands, experiencing additional social interaction (play) with other puppies did not lead to significant changes in responses to social stimuli as assessed by the rating scales. Additionally, the exposure to novel or handling stimuli in the context of the program did not significantly improve responses in comparison to animals without such exposure. The data suggest that socialisation and training programs may be useful as a starting point for assessing possible problematic behaviour in puppies and are effective in producing well trained dogs.