Article

Suitability for field service in 4 breeds of guide dogs

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  • Canine Genetic Services, LLC
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Abstract

This study examines the relative importance of a longer than normal 4-month training period, or being ¿passed back¿ from the original training class to join a class in which dogs are at an earlier stage of their training, on the overall probability that a dog entering guide dog training will ultimately graduate as a guide dog. The study group consisted of dogs that were trained at The Seeing Eye guide dog school in the years 2000 through 2005. In total, 2033 Labrador retrievers (LR), golden retrievers (GR), German shepherds (GS) and Labrador retriever/golden retriever crosses (LGX) were included in the study. Of all dogs, 39% had been passed back during their training, and 56% had graduated as guide dogs. In general, females had a lower chance to be passed back than males, except for GS and LGX. Overall, GS had the highest chance to be passed back during their training. LGX had the highest, and GS the lowest, probability for graduating as guide dogs. Dogs that were passed back for behavioral reasons were only half as likely as dogs completing training normally to work as guide dogs, whereas medical reasons and ¿no match¿ reasons for being passed back hardly influenced the chances to become guide dogs. Overall, the current 4-month standard training program at The Seeing Eye seemed mostly successful for LGX and LR, whereas GS and GR had a higher success rate when being passed back, i.e., they were more likely to graduate as guide dogs when they were trained for a longer period than the standard training program.

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... These are Labrador Retrievers (LR), Golden Retrievers (GR) and a mix between the two breeds. Some also use German Shepherds (GS) (Ennik et al., 2006), Labradoodles, and Goldendoodles (Shouldice et al., 2019). Facilities have also expanded into Royal Poodles, Bouvier des Flandres, Bernese Mountain Dog, Labrenese (LR x Bernese Mountain Dogs), and Saint-Pierre (Dollion et al., 2019). ...
... Facilities have also expanded into Royal Poodles, Bouvier des Flandres, Bernese Mountain Dog, Labrenese (LR x Bernese Mountain Dogs), and Saint-Pierre (Dollion et al., 2019). There are differences between breeds which can make some more suited to role than others (Ennik et al., 2006). Caron-Lormier et al. (2016b) conducted a study using guide dogs to investigate the patterns of undesirable behaviour in dogs. ...
... They were also the least fearful of the breeds assessed (Caron-Lormier et al., 2016b). In Ennik et al. (2006) which assesses the suitability of four dog breeds for guide work, Labrador Retrievers (n = 690) scored higher in traits such as courage, hardness and friendliness than other breeds (Ennik et al., 2006). van Rooy and Wade (2019) focused on behavioural genetics of dog breeds and found they were also ranked highly around the world as having low levels of aggression and scoring highest in trainability. ...
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This article provides a comprehensive overview of methods for evaluating the suitability of trainee dogs for assistance and guide work. It presents both current practices in industry as well as modern techniques with the aim of identifying important behavioural traits. It is divided into (1) selection and training methods, including breed, genetics, and training programme considerations; (2) behaviour assessment methods such as traditional test batteries, individual ratings and observational tests plus emerging techniques such as canine activity monitoring; (3) physiological assessment methods including cardiac, respiratory and hormonal biomarkers. Assistance dog organisations around the world share a similar overall structure of their training programmes and behavioural assessment methods, however the implementation details vary as no standardised technique is widely employed. Physiological indicators have demonstrated great potential to estimate affective states and personality characteristics such as emotional regulation and coping style. Further investigation is encouraged to validate and define the use of physiological measures to complement behavioural scores in evaluating the suitability of prospective dogs for assistance work. A number of commercially available off-the-shelf (COTS) devices are discussed in the terms of their suitability and reliability for monitoring canine activities and cardio-respiratory parameters. This interdisciplinary collaboration is key to further understanding the connection between behaviour and physiology, allowing a more complete evaluation of an individual’s capability which will ultimately enable a highly accurate prediction of their training outcome. We recommend that assistance dog organisations and researchers work together to design new assessment protocols considering validated practices and promising techniques from state-of-the-art literature.
... Guide Dogs NSW/ACT (Chatswood, Australia) report that training a successful guide dog costs approximately AU$ 30,000 1 (Guide Dogs NSW/ACT, 2010). Previous studies on guide dog training have reported success rates of 50-56% for dogs in training (Ennik et al., 2006;Batt et al., 2008a). More recently, a global survey of guide dog organisations from 15 countries revealed success rates of 23-100% (Batt et al., 2010). ...
... To date, a number of studies have assessed various aspects of guide dog training. These include genetic factors and breeding programmes Beilharz, 1982, 1983;Arata et al., 2007), early life experiences and puppy raising (Koda, 2001a,b;Serpell and Hsu, 2001;Batt et al., 2008a;Serpell, 2008, 2009;Gazzano et al., 2008) and dog selection, assessment, and training (Peel, 1975;Murphy, 1995Murphy, , 1998Serpell and Hsu, 2001;Ennik et al., 2006;Duffy and Serpell, 2008;Arata et al., 2010). Many of these studies have also assessed factors that could predict the suitability of animals for guiding work (Goddard and Beilharz, 1982, 1983, 1984a, 1986Knol et al., 1988;Serpell and Hsu, 2001;Kikkawa et al., 2005;Arata et al., 2007;Batt et al., 2008a,b;Duffy and Serpell, 2008). ...
... This study investigated if motor, sensory, and structural measures of lateralisation could be used to predict the success or otherwise of dogs entering guide dog training. The success rate of 50% found in the current study is fairly typical of that achieved in other guide dog organisations (Ennik et al., 2006;Batt et al., 2008a), indicating that the population of dogs we assessed was representative of the general population of animals entering Guide Dog Training Programmes. Individual dog factors such as sex, breed, and age, were not associated with the training outcome. ...
Article
The aim of this study was to determine whether objective measures of laterality could be used to identify dogs with a high probability of successfully completing a Guide Dog Training Programme. Three categories of laterality (motor, sensory, and structural), were assessed in 114 dogs entering guide dog training. Significant predictors of success were identified: the direction of laterality (P=0.028), paw preference category in the 'Kong' test (P=0.043), hindpaw clearance height (P=0.002), laterality indices for a number of measures in the Sensory Jump test, and chest hair whorl direction (P=0.050). This is the first study to report a structural marker of canine behaviour. All three categories of laterality may be used to predict the suitability of dogs for guiding work, and by identifying predictors of success, resources can be more efficiently utilised on dogs with greater potential.
... Further, puppy test scores seem to be indicative for a dogs' suitability as a guide dog later in life. (Ennik et al., 2006;Goddard and Beilharz, 1982). In order to use the investments in guide dog training more efficiently, the primary aim of a guide dog breeding program is to optimize the number of dogs that are suitable for guide dog work and in addition, to improve the performance of these dogs (Goddard and Beilharz, 1983). ...
... However, no difference in success rate was found. In addition, Ennik et al. (2006) reported dogs that had been passed back during training (meaning that they leave their own class and join a class that is at an earlier stage in the training and therefore receive a longer training) were half as likely to graduate as a guide dog compared to dogs that had not been passed back. There is variation in fear-related behavior among dogs and it might be reduced by genetic improvement. ...
... The more dogs are bred above the need, the larger the amount of released The results that are presented in this essay are based on the GEB Labrador Retriever population. Breed effects have been found to be a significant factor influencing the probability of working as a guide dog (Ennik et al., 2006). Therefore, slightly different genetic parameters might be found in other breeds. ...
Article
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This study showed a heritability of approximately 10% for the ability to become a guide dog. Despite this low heritability, the selection programme at GEB improved the guiding ability of their dogs. Testing the dogs at 8 weeks of age gives an early indication of the genetic ability of the dogs.
... Research on the assistance dog population echoes this pattern in suggesting that some traits, such as anxiety and level of activity, were predictable in the puppy raising period at around 5 months of age, but most traits, including distractibility and body sensitivity, were more consistent when the puppies were around 1 year old (Kobayashi et al., 2013;Asher et al., 2017). Ennik et al. (2006) examined whether some prospective guide dogs might benefit from being 'passed back' from their original training program to one in which dogs were at an earlier stage of training. One of their findings, that being passed back on the basis of 'needing more work' was advantageous for some breeds but not others, confirms that different breeds might have distinct developmental trajectories. ...
... This requires appropriate measures be available to address any undesirable behaviors at an early stage, with remediation becoming more difficult once a dog has progressed through early stages of neuronal and behavioral plasticity to reach maturity. In the Ennik et al. (2006) study cited previously, trainee guide dogs who were passed back for behavioral reasons were, overall, only half as likely as dogs who completed training normally to eventually graduate as a guide dog. ...
Article
Problem behaviours are the most common reason to reject young dogs from entering advanced training and obtaining certification for work as an assistance dog. Therefore, working towards preventing undesirable behaviours should be prioritised to reduce failure rates. The development of problem behaviours in puppies, such as those associated with fearfulness and anxiety, result from the interplay between their genetic predisposition, puppyhood experiences, and other factors in their raising environment. This paper uses an adapted general systems model as a framework to review relevant literature, following its three-stage structure, i.e. input, throughput, and output. To produce desirable behavioural traits (output), much effort has been devoted to optimising puppy breeding and selection (input) and developing training and socialising protocols (throughput). However, findings are mixed and the effects generally small. In this paper we suggest that, although it is critical that the industry enrol suitable puppies (input) and adopt evidence-based program designs (organisational levels of throughput), it is the puppy raisers that play a central role in program implementation (individual level of throughput). Puppy raisers’ individual differences will likely influence their adherence to programs developed by assistance dog provider organisations. Specifically, puppy raisers with prior experience will likely be more competent at puppy handling and therefore raise behaviourally favourable puppies. When lacking experience and competency in dog handling skills, novice puppy raisers may rely on methods associated with their existing parenting and attachment styles when addressing puppies’ undesirable behaviours. Future research should therefore investigate these human factors, so as to inform puppy training and behavioural management protocols to ensure they are effective in spite of puppy raiser differences.
... Training assistance dogs is highly consuming in terms of time and financial resources, and a sizeable proportion of dogs entering training are withdrawn before its conclusion [39,40], mainly for behavioural reasons [41]. Therefore, a relatively large number of studies in the field aimed at developing tools for the assessment of traits, which could reliably predict success in training. ...
... The pilot study by Batt and colleagues [47] reports no effect of a 5-week program of either training or socialization on puppies' later success as guide dogs, although methodological limitations (e.g., small sample sizes and existence of subpopulations within groups, as acknowledged by the authors) restrict the breadth of the conclusions. Ennik and co-authors [39] published a retrospective study looking at factors influencing the rate of success in a large sample (N = 2033) of potential guide dogs. The study shows that dogs being passed back to an earlier stage of training for behavioural reasons had lower chances of becoming guide dogs, but being passed back for other reasons (i.e., medical reasons that delayed the completion of training, or lack of a suitable owner match in the current class) was beneficial in terms of final success rate, though only for certain breeds. ...
Article
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Assistance dogs are a very diverse group of working dogs that are trained to assist humans with different types of disabilities in their daily lives. Despite these dogs' value for humankind, research on their welfare status, cognitive and behavioural capacities, selection criteria for the best fitting individuals, effective training and management practices, and genetic issues are so far lacking. This review highlights the need to address these topics and to promote progress in legal issues around assistance dogs. The topic of assistance dogs is approached comprehensively by outlining the current status of knowledge in three different dimensions: (1) the legal dimension, outlining important legal issues in the EU and Australia; (2) the welfare dimension; and (3) the dimension of research, covering assistance dog selection and training. For each of these three dimensions, we discuss potential approaches that can be implemented in the future in order to support assistance dog working performance, to protect the dogs' welfare, and to improve our knowledge about them. Additionally, there remain many legal issues, such as the presence of assistance dogs in public areas, the resolution of which would benefit both the assistance dog and the owner with disability.
... The large breeds mentioned above are often preferred as assistance dogs because of their useful characteristics, including their temperament, trainability, and body size [33][34][35]. Yet, Chihuahua was the second most registered breed in California after Labrador Retriever, and Yorkshire Terrier was the fifth most common, after German Shepherd and Golden Retriever. ...
... Some reports show that chronic and acute stress can cause physiological changes, such as increased heart rates and cortisol levels [46,47]. Assistance dog training organizations consider the temperaments and aptitudes of dogs as they place each assistance dog; they breed their dogs and/or evaluate and select dogs when they recruit dogs from other sources [34,48]. People choosing to train their own pet dogs for assistance need to consider the dog and whether it is appropriate from the various aspects, such as their temperaments, behaviors, and burdens on their bodies and mental health. ...
Article
Dogs are filling a growing number of roles supporting people with various disabilities, leading to a chaotic situation in the U.S. Although the federal laws allow public access with working dogs only for people with disabilities, no governmental enforcement or management system for such dogs exists. Furthermore, there is no substantive way to confirm whether the dog is an adequately trained assistance dog or not, as neither the handlers nor the dogs are required to carry any particular certification or identification. Therefore, unqualified assistance dogs and incidents such as dog bites by assistance dogs sometimes are problems in the U.S. A governmental oversight system could reduce problems, but no information is available about the current uses of assistance dogs in the U.S. We aimed to investigate the current demographics of registered assistance dogs and the evolving patterns in uses of dogs during 1999–2012 in California. We acquired data on assistance dogs registered by animal control facilities throughout California. We used descriptive statistics to describe the uses of these assistance dogs. The number of assistance dogs sharply increased, especially service dogs, in the past decade. Dogs with small body sizes, and new types of service dogs, such as service dogs for psychiatric and medical assistance, strongly contributed to the increase. The Assistance Dog Identification tags sometimes were mistakenly issued to dogs not fitting the definition of assistance dogs under the law, such as emotional support animals and some cats; this reveals errors in the California governmental registering system. Seemingly inappropriate dogs also were registered, such as those registered for the first time at older than 10 years of age. This study reveals a prevalence of misuse and misunderstanding of regulations and legislation on assistance dogs in California.
... Thus, they may exhibit unwelcome responses after graduating, which results in their failure after placement and lower working success rates. Previous studies found that German shepherd dogs had lower graduating success rates than Labrador or golden retrievers, but that they benefited most from additional training (Ennik, et al., 2006). The higher graduating success rates for organizations using German shepherd dogs may, therefore, reflect additional time spent training (particularly the shepherds), as Ennik, et al. (2006) found that without the additional training, German shepherd dogs had higher failure rates than Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, or crossbred Labradorgolden retrievers. ...
... Previous studies found that German shepherd dogs had lower graduating success rates than Labrador or golden retrievers, but that they benefited most from additional training (Ennik, et al., 2006). The higher graduating success rates for organizations using German shepherd dogs may, therefore, reflect additional time spent training (particularly the shepherds), as Ennik, et al. (2006) found that without the additional training, German shepherd dogs had higher failure rates than Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, or crossbred Labradorgolden retrievers. Despite the use of German shepherd dogs being associated with higher graduating success rates, there was no association with working success rates, perhaps indicating that more dogs fail in the intervening year and that there is no advantage conveyed by the use of this breed in the long term. ...
Article
This study surveyed international guide dog organizations to compare their success rates with management practices. A questionnaire designed to identify the factors associated with international guide dog success was piloted with the cooperation of Guide Dogs NSW/ACT. The International Guide Dog Federation endorsed the study before the questionnaire was sent to 76 of its member organizations from 27 countries. There were 38 responses (of which 36 were usable) from guide dog organizations in 15 countries (50% response rate). Guide dog success rates were defined by the dogs' graduating success (the proportion of dogs commencing the program that successfully graduated as guide dogs) as well as working success (the proportion of dogs commencing the program that were working 1 year later). Working success and graduating success were found to be significantly different. Working success was considered the more informative estimate of true success, as it incorporated more variables than did graduating success.Quotas were used by many organizations to ensure that dogs graduated in sufficient numbers to meet the demand from visually impaired clientele. Despite our hypothesis that quotas would artificially inflate graduating success rates, logistic regression found that they were not associated with differences in graduating success rates, but that they were associated with greater working success. This finding indicates that quotas are not set at unrealistic levels and may help improve long-term success rates. Logistic regression also showed that dog breeds, the application of different temperament tests, the use of external breeders (as opposed to the organization breeding their own dogs), and the methods used to acquire information about the dogs during the puppy-raising period were significantly associated with these outcomes.
... However, training a dog to be a successful guide dog costs approximately AU$30,000 (Guide Dogs NSW/ACT, 2010) because of the large amount of resources required, both in terms of time and money that go into dog housing, husbandry, and training. Furthermore, success rates of between 50% and 56% for dogs in training (Ennik et al., 2006;Batt et al., 2008a) contribute to large production costs. Therefore, identifying methods for early detection of dogs that are suitable for guide work would help to reduce the cost of production. ...
... A success rate of 49.6% was achieved by the cohort of potential guide dogs (n 5 113) in this study. Given that previously published data have indicated success rates of 50%-56% for dogs in training (Ennik et al., 2006;Batt et al., 2008a), the dogs used in this study were reasonably representative of the general population of dogs undergoing guide dog training. Dog factors such as age, breed, and sex were not associated with the dog's outcome in the GDTP, which allowed the sample size to remain entire for the temperament and kennel behavior analyses. ...
Article
A range of mobility aids are available to assist people living with vision impairment, and of these, guide dog ownership offers them several unique benefits. However, training a dog to be a successful guide dog comes at a high cost (approximately AU$30,000). Therefore, the aim of this study was to determine whether temperament testing and kennel behavior measures could be used by Guide Dog Organizations for the early identification of dogs suitable for guiding work and thus to reduce production costs. Temperament tests (Passive and Noise, Sudden Appearance, and Dog Distraction Tests) and kennel behavior assessments (Activity Level, Salivary Immunoglobulin A Concentration, and Kennel Surveillance) were assessed in potential guide dogs (n = 25-113) at the Guide Dogs NSW/ACT Training Centre, Glossodia, New South Wales, Australia. Several significant predictors of guide dog success were identified. The presence of panting (P = 0.029) and licking (P = 0.005) when contrasted with baseline observations in the Dog Distraction Test, significantly reduced the probability of guide dog success. Success was also reduced with the latency for a dog to sit in the third Noise Test (P = 0.028), and when the time spent resting was reduced during the evening period (P = 0.018) in the Kennel Surveillance assessment. This study reports that 4 specific behavioral responses, which may reflect anxiety and restlessness, predict low suitability of dogs for guiding work. Through the identification of early predictors of guide dog success, resources can be more appropriately focused on dogs with a higher probability of success, whereas unsuitable dogs can be rehomed.
... It is then common for the dogs to return to a dedicated campus between 14 and 20 months, where they are housed in kennels as they progress through professional training. There is some converging evidence that the ideal age for the transition from puppy raiser home to professional training environment is around 17 months (22,23). During professional training, dogs are taught the skills necessary for their future jobs, culminating in a multi-week joint training once matched with their new partner (17). ...
Article
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Dogs are trained for a variety of working roles including assistance, protection, and detection work. Many canine working roles, in their modern iterations, were developed at the turn of the 20th century and training practices have since largely been passed down from trainer to trainer. In parallel, research in psychology has advanced our understanding of animal behavior, and specifically canine learning and cognition, over the last 20 years; however, this field has had little focus or practical impact on working dog training. The aims of this narrative review are to (1) orient the reader to key advances in animal behavior that we view as having important implications for working dog training, (2) highlight where such information is already implemented, and (3) indicate areas for future collaborative research bridging the gap between research and practice. Through a selective review of research on canine learning and behavior and training of working dogs, we hope to combine advances from scientists and practitioners to lead to better, more targeted, and functional research for working dogs.
... Indeed, when carrying out their functions, they must be able to control themselves in all circumstances and find solutions when faced with obstacles in order to guarantee the safety of the person they accompany [4,5]. For these reasons, the failure rate of guide dogs is consistently very high worldwide [6,7]. As the cost for one fully trained dog is approximately 25,000 € [8], failures lead to significant financial losses for guide dog organizations. ...
Article
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Fear is the leading cause of guide dog failure. Detecting the nature and causes of these fears as early as possible is the first step in preventing their occurrence. The process of habituation is a fundamental part of fear prevention. In this study, 11 puppies, all five months of age, underwent an emotional reactivity test (ERT) composed of 12 scored items, classified into three categories: unknown person (UP), sound and visual stimuli (SVS), and body sensitivity (BS). Salivary cortisol was also measured. Foster families were asked to complete a questionnaire concerning puppies’ habituation. The physiological data were correlated with UP (r = 0.71) and BS scores (r = 0.67), but not with SVS scores (r = 0.16), suggesting the ability of these dogs to control themselves when faced with the latter stimulus category. Additionally, the more time a puppy spent alone, the more likely it was to be afraid of SVS (p = 0.05). A correlation, albeit moderate, was detected between cortisol and habituation scores (r = 0.48). These results give us interesting avenues to explore, particularly regarding the importance of focusing on early puppy socialization and habituation to improve the numbers of guide dog candidates becoming successful guide dogs.
... military, guide, police, assistance dog, drug detection, explosive detection) are costly (Wilsson and Sundgren, 1998;Sinn et al., 2010;Tomkins et al., 2011). At the moment rejection rates in training programmes can be as high as 46-50 % (Ennik et al., 2006). The majority of studies, and personality test batteries used in the selection process for working dog training, focus on testing personality traits such as shyness -boldness, trainability, activity, aggression and sociability. ...
Article
Working dogs are used for a range of important operational tasks. Identifying potentially successful working dogs as early as possible is important as rejection rates are high and training is costly. Earlier research has mainly concentrated on personality traits such as boldness, and there is only little knowledge on the possible association between cognitive traits and the actual working dog performance. This study investigated whether motor inhibition, persistence, problem-solving strategies, and spatial problem-solving are associated with explosive detection success in specially trained police dogs. Dogs (N = 24) were tested with a cognitive test battery, and subsequently they participated in an explosive detection test. The explosive searching situation and the location of the test was such that it would reflect as much as possible a real-life situation. Canine handlers also filled in a questionnaire regarding their dog’s working behaviour. We found that those dogs that were more successful in explosive detection task had better motor inhibition in a cylinder task compared to dogs with lower success in an explosive search task. Furthermore, we found that dogs that made more errors in the cylinder task were generally more likely to give up searching sooner, as reported by their handlers, and also abandon sooner the problem-solving task in behavioural test. This study suggests that inhibitory control, specifically motor inhibition, may be an important aspect to consider when selecting suitable dogs for explosive detection tasks. Cylinder task is an easy and quick way to assess inhibitory control, although a larger dataset is needed to verify its association with working performance.
... Guide dogs for the blind have a great social impact because of their invaluable aid in providing independent mobility to people with visual impairment; their service comes at high cost (approximately 25,000 euros) due to the large amount of resources, housing, husbandry and training, required to train such animals [34]. Furthermore, success rates ranged between 50% and 56% for dogs in training [35] contribute to large production costs. Although the most important skills to train in these dogs are obedience, they also must have an appropriate nutritional plan, in order to support physical fitness. ...
Article
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Nutrition plays a leading role that most influences thyroid response and energetic metabolism. Aim was to compare the effect of diet on thyroid and lipid status in guide dogs during a 12-weeks training period. Eight Labrador Retrievers were divided into two groups homogeneous for sex, age, body weight, and Body Condition Score (BCS) and fed two commercial diets one, HPF, characterized by low-carbohydrate/high-protein/high-fat (29%:39%:19% as-fed) and the other, LPF, by high-carbohydrate/low-protein/low-fat (50%:24%:12% as-fed) content. The serum thriiodothyronine (T3), thyroxine (T4), cholesterol (CHOL), triglycerides (TAGs) and non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA) were determined at Day 0, 28, 56, and 84, before the daily training. Statistical model included the effects of Diet (HPF vs. LPF) and Time (Day 0 to Day 84), and their interaction. In the HPF group, Diet significantly (p < 0.01) increased T4, CHOL, and TAGs and decreased NEFA. In both groups, Time significantly (p < 0.05) increased T4 and TAGs, CHOL at Day 28, and NEFA at Day 56. The interaction did not influence serum hormones and lipid pattern. The adjustments in thyroid and lipid responses to moderate exercise in HPF group were driven mainly by the nutrient composition of the diet in relation to the involvement of metabolic homeostasis.
... Some guide dog schools around the world favor working with GR x LR cross breeds, since they observed a higher training success and reduced withdrawals for orthopaedic disorders. [45,46] Additionally, cross breeds tended to be more likely to have longer healthy lives than purebreds. [31,46,47] Consequently, introducing cross breeds into the Belgian population of assistance dogs could be beneficial to lower the amount of rejections, on both orthopaedic and behavioural level. ...
Article
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Assistance dogs aid people with various impairments on a daily basis. To become an assistance dog, a strict selection procedure and intensive training period must be successfully completed. Consequently, not every dog acquired for this purpose, becomes an assistance dog. The purpose of this study was to investigate reasons for failure and the financial consequences thereof for assistance dog associations that do not have a dedicated breeding program for their dogs. Data were collected for a total of 537 dogs enlisted between 2001 and 2015 and purchased out of the general dog population by five Belgian assistance dog associations. Only 60 percent of the dogs actually became an assistance dog and the main reasons for failure were related to undesirable behavioural characteristics and orthopaedic disorders. The estimated average financial loss per rejected dog was found to be 10524 euro. A detailed comparison of the two most popular breeds (Golden Retriever and Labrador Retriever) within the guide dogs and mobility assistance dogs revealed no significant difference in probability of successfully completing the training. However, a comparison of orthopaedic screening methods revealed a higher rejection with computed tomography for elbow dysplasia and laxity-based radiographical techniques for hip dysplasia compared to radiography and the standard ventrodorsal hip extend radiograph alone, respectively. Based on these results, we provide several suggestions to increase the probability of success.
... For example, among 200 German Shepherd dogs within the Swedish Armed Forces, only 52% were found to have suitable temperaments [14]. Within Guide Dogs for the Blind Inc., Australia, 42.6% (313/735) of puppies were successfully trained as working dogs [44], whereas in The Seeing Eye guide dog school in the USA, 56% of 2,033 dogs graduated as qualified guide dogs [13]. The approximately 50% success rate in achieving a qualified working dog is related to efforts to improve temperament and health issues of dogs over several decades through the use of conventional breeding management programs. ...
Article
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Dogs can serve human society in various ways by working at tasks based on their superior olfactory sensitivity. However, it has been reported that only about half of all trained dogs qualified as working dogs through conventional breeding management, because proper temperament and health are needed in addition to their innate scent detection ability. To overcome this low efficiency of producing working dogs and to reduce the enormous costs of maintaining unqualified dogs, somatic cell nuclear transfer has been applied to propagate working dogs. Here, we review the history of cloning working dogs, and evaluate health development, temperaments and behavioral similarities of cloned dogs. We also discuss concerns about dog cloning including birth defects, lifespan and cloning efficiency.
... Second, dogs that returned from their puppy-raising families at a younger age were less likely to succeed. The effect of age at return on outcome has only been examined in one other study, also using dogs from The Seeing Eye (56). Interestingly, they found an opposite result, whereby entering training at a younger age was associated with success. ...
Article
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How does maternal style, experienced over the first few weeks of life, affect later outcomes? Equally important, what is the role of an adolescent’s temperament and cognitive skills? The quest to understand which factors early in development lead to positive life outcomes is an endeavor that transcends species boundaries. In this dissertation, I explore the nature of these relationships using data collected from birth to adolescence in a cohort of prospective guide dogs. In Study 1, I quantify the behavior of mothers (n = 21) toward their litters. The results revealed that canine maternal style can be summarized in one principal component that explained a significant proportion of the variation and was stable across weeks, variable across individuals, and related to maternal cortisol and experimental measures. In Study 2, I examine the influence of early maternal style on later behavior, as well as on success in the guide dog program up to two years later. I also evaluated the influence of young adult temperament and cognition on success. Measures of maternal style as well as adolescent temperament and cognition were significantly associated with outcome in the guide dog program, even when controlling for each other. Successful dogs had less involved mothers as puppies, and demonstrated superior problem-solving skills, lower levels of perseveration, and reduced anxious vocal behavior as young adults. Temperament and cognition are frequently assessed in tasks purporting to measure one or the other, but large-scale studies usually only include tasks assigned to either domain. Dogs in our study completed a battery of both temperament and cognitive tasks. Thus, in Study 3, I address the categorization of ‘temperament’ and ‘cognitive’ tasks using both confirmatory and exploratory analyses and validate the findings using subjective ratings from puppy raisers, salivary cortisol, and program outcome measures. Forcing tasks into groups defined by cognition or temperament led to poor results, whereas a bottom-up approach revealed that putative cognitive and temperament measures interact in unanticipated ways. Taken together, these results suggest that mothering and the not-so-straightforward interplay of temperament and cognition provide important clues to the future success of an animal.
... Dogs that returned from their puppy-raising families at a younger age (14 mo) were less likely to succeed than older dogs (17 mo). These results are consistent with the results obtained in one previous study (57), where dogs entering training at 17 mo were more likely to succeed than older individuals (up to 27 mo). Given that personality traits in dogs, such as calmness and boldness, have been linked to age (58), it seems possible that returning for training at a specific age leads to better acclimation to a kennel setting. ...
Article
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Significance A successful guide dog must navigate a complex world, avoid distractions, and respond adaptively to unpredictable events. What leads to success? We followed 98 puppies from birth to adulthood. Puppies were enrolled in a training program where only ∼70% achieved success as guide dogs. More intense mothering early in life was associated with program failure. In addition, mothers whose nursing style required greater effort by puppies produced more successful offspring. Among young adult dogs, poor problem-solving abilities, perseveration, and apparently greater anxiety when confronted with a novel object were also associated with program failure. Results mirror the results from rodents and humans, reaffirming the enduring effects on adult behavior of maternal style and individual differences in temperament and cognition.
... Finding that some types of dogs move more quickly through training than others could be used to help identify the characteristics of dogs that suited to shorter training times. From an applied perspective, length of training has an associated cost and there have been differences found at breed level for the effective length of training in dogs (19). The added value of using the MSM compared to previous findings shown here serves to highlight the potential it could have for other areas of studying animal behavior. ...
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Epidemiology is the study of patterns of health-related states or events in populations. Statistical models developed for epidemiology could be usefully applied to behavioural states or events. The aim of this study is to present the application of epidemiological statistics to understand animal behaviour where discrete outcomes are of interest, using data from guide dogs to illustrate. Specifically, survival analysis and multi-state modelling are applied to data on guide dogs comparing dogs that completed training and qualified as a guide dog, to those that were withdrawn from the training program. Survival analysis allows the time to (or between) a binary event(s) and the probability of the event occurring at or beyond a specified time point. Survival analysis, using a cox proportional hazards model, was used to examine the time taken to withdraw a dog from training. Sex, breed and other factors affected time to withdrawal. Bitches were withdrawn faster than dogs, Labradors were withdrawn faster, and Labrador × Golden Retrievers slower, than Golden Retriever × Labradors; and dogs not bred by Guide Dogs were withdrawn faster than those bred by Guide Dogs. Multistate modeling (MSM) can be used as an extension of survival analysis to incorporate more than two discrete events or states. Multistate models were used to investigate transitions between states of training to qualification as a guide dog or behavioral withdrawal, and from qualification as a guide dog to behavioral withdrawal. Sex, breed (with purebred Labradors and Golden retrievers differing from F1 crosses), and bred by Guide Dogs or not, effected movements between states. We postulate that survival analysis and MSM could be applied to a wide range of behavioral data and key examples are provided.
... However, as with the other studies reviewed here, no firm conclusions can be drawn until the crossbred category is broken down into its components. Ennik et al. (2006) examined the results of training in 2033 dogs representing three purebreds (Labrador retrievers, Golden retrievers, German shepherd dogs) and various Labrador/Golden retriever crossbreds in The Seeing Eye Guide Dog School from 2000 to 2005. Breed had a highly significant effect (P < 0.0001) on the probability of graduating as a guide dog, with crossbreds having the highest probability (59%), followed by Golden retrievers (54%), Labrador retrievers (51%) and German shepherd dogs (46%). ...
Article
Evidence from other species justifies the hypotheses that useful hybrid vigour occurs in dogs and that it can be exploited for improved health, welfare and fitness for purpose. Unfortunately, most of the relevant published canine studies do not provide estimates of actual hybrid vigour because of inadequate specification of the parentage of mixed-bred dogs. To our knowledge, only three published studies have shed any light on actual hybrid vigour in dogs. There are two reports of actual hybrid vigour between Labrador and Golden retrievers, the first ranging from +2.5% to −6.0% for components of a standardised applied-stimulus behavioural test, and the second being at least +12.4% for chance of graduating as a guide dog. The third study provides a minimum estimate of negative actual hybrid vigour: crossbreds between Labrador retrievers and poodles had a higher prevalence of multifocal retinal dysplasia than the average prevalence in their purebred parent breeds. The lack of estimates of actual hybrid vigour can be overcome by including the exact nature of the cross (e.g. F1, F2 or backcross) and their purebred parental breeds in the specification of mixed-bred dogs. Even if only F1 crossbreds can be categorised, this change would enable researchers to conduct substantial investigations to determine whether hybrid vigour has any utility for dog breeding.
... These predictions appear to have been correct. In a study of German shepherd dogs, Labrador retrievers, golden retrievers, and GR Â L born between 1999 and 2004 at The Seeing Eye, the GR Â L had the highest probability of qualifying as a guide dog at 59% (Ennik et al., 2006). It was postulated that this could be due both to the benefits of breed differences and heterosis. ...
Article
Two thousand one hundred twenty-seven potential guide dog puppies of 2 breeds and their crosses underwent a standardized applied-stimulus behavioral test at 6 weeks of age. The responses of the puppies were scored on a 7-point scale according to either responsiveness (reaction to human assessor) or confidence (reaction to environmental stimuli) on stimuli comprising: following when called, retrieve, gentle restraint, noise, stroking, a toy squirrel, encouragement to go through a tunnel, and encouragement to go over a ramp. It has been shown previously that some of these stimuli showed association with success in guide dog training. The results of each component of the test were analyzed using restricted maximum likelihood univariate animal models, and 8 of the 11 estimated heritabilities were significantly different from zero. Most of the crossbreeding parameter estimates were not detectably larger than zero, likely reflecting the small size of the dataset and the relatively close relationship between the 2 pure breeds. These results suggest that the behavioral test results (and the estimated breeding values produced from them) could be useful in identifying which puppies to use as breeding stock.
... Although, the training dog is high cost [1], the success rates of training dog was 56% approximately. Furthermore, the 39% of them had been passed during a training program for the behavioral reasons in four months standard program [2]. Thereby housing dog environment is very important and relevant to temperaments which influence the success of dog training. ...
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Environmental awareness is currently significant caring in all industrial sectors, particularly in the animal industries. Animals are directly affected by environmental conditions and climate changes. Working dog is costly production in time and money to be successful. Health and temperament are key factors to be successful in training dog program. Working training dog school, NPUST is located in mountainous areas. The weather has frequently extreme change in temperature and humidity. The changes cause the heat in in-house and humidity in the air that may cause the dog illness. Therefore, working training dog school has to provide an appropriate kennel environment for all dogs throughout the training program. In order to secure the dogs, the automatic environmental sensing should be deployed. Web sensors and radio frequency identification (RFID) technologies were integrated, and have been implemented that are the weather sensing system and in-out control system, combining with health care management. Web based monitoring systems have provided based on user-friendly interface along with real-time information. In addition, it is very attractive use when the system operating via more convenient for computer and mobile communication devices.
... The emphasis of breeding programmes is on improving the success rates of dogs enrolled in their training programmes [76][77][78][79]. A quantitative approach is commonly employed, calculating the heritability of valuable behavioural traits [28,31,76,[80][81][82][83]. ...
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Canine behaviours that are both desirable and undesirable to owners have a demonstrable genetic component. Some behaviours are breed-specific, such as the livestock guarding by maremmas and flank sucking seen in Dobermanns. While the identification of genes responsible for common canine diseases is rapidly advancing, those genes underlying behaviours remain elusive. The challenges of accurately defining and measuring behavioural phenotypes remain an obstacle, and the use of variable phenotyping methods has prevented meta-analysis of behavioural studies. International standardised testing protocols and terminology in canine behavioural evaluations should facilitate selection against behavioural disorders in the modern dog and optimise breeding success and performance in working dogs. This review examines the common hurdles faced by researchers of behavioural genetics and the current state of knowledge.
... For example, Svartberg (2002) found German shepherd dogs to be 'bolder' than Belgium Tervurens, and Guy et al. (2001) found smaller breeds of dogs to be involved in more aggressive incidents than larger breeds. In addition, Ennik et al. (2006) found that German Shepherds were less successful than Labrador Retrievers or Golden Retrievers as guide dogs. Goodwin et al., 1997 also found that the purpose for which dogs were bred significantly influenced their behaviour, possibly indicating the need for greater emphasis to be placed on task-specific breeding programmes. ...
... Labradors were found to be the least fearful in startling tests between 1 and 18 months of age, while German Shepherds were the most fearful (Goddard and Beilharz, 1985a). These experimental findings are consistent with breed differences in success rates for graduating as Seeing Eye guide dogs (Ennik et al., 2006), where Labrador Retrievers and Labrador-Golden Retriever crosses were the most likely to succeed in training whereas German Shepherd Dogs were the least likely. Furthermore, the topography of fearfulness, rather than the likelihood of its expression, may differ between breeds. ...
... Guide dog organizations produce dogs for use by the visually impaired at an estimated cost of US $10, 000-$20, 000 per successful dog produced (Coppinger et al., 1998). In the United States, The Seeing Eye (Morristown, New Jersey) has reported a success rate of 56% from a recent cohort of 2033 dogs (Ennik et al., 2006). Guide Dogs NSW/ACT (Chatswood, Australia), have similarly reported an average pass rate of 50% (unpublished data). ...
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.
... Heterosis refers to the phenomenon whereby cross-breeding leads to organisms that appear to be particularly hardy, healthy, or successful (Duvick 2001; Lippman and Zamir 2007). For example, in non-human animals, cross-bred dairy cows gain weight faster and produce more milk (Cundiff et al 1974) and cross-bred dogs are more successful in guide dog training (Ennik et al 2006). In humans, heterosis has been suggested to be linked to factors such as early growth (Penrose 1955; Wolanski et al 1970) and some authors have suggested that increase in IQ may be linked to heterosis (Mingroni 2007). ...
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Many studies show agreement within and between populations and cultures for general judgments of facial attractiveness. Studies that have examined the attractiveness of specific traits have also highlighted cross-cultural differences for factors such as symmetry, averageness, and masculinity. One trait that should be preferred across cultures is heterozygosity. Indeed, several studies suggest that mixed ethnicity, in terms of appearing to possess a mixture of traits from different human population groups, may be found attractive, which could reflect preferences for heterozygosity. We examined preferences for manipulated face shape associated with different populations in both Europeans (Britain) and Africans (Guinea-Bissau). We found that mixed-ethnicity face shapes were more attractive than enhanced single-ethnicity face shape across both populations. These results are consistent with evolutionary theories suggesting individuals should prefer heterozygosity in partners because facial cues to mixed-ethnicity are likely to indicate diverse genes compared to cues that indicate a face belongs to a single particular culture or population.
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During two retreats in 2017 and 2020, a group of international scientists convened to explore the Human-Animal Bond. The meetings, hosted by the Wallis Annenberg PetSpace Leadership Institute, took a broad view of the human-dog relationship and how interactions between the two may benefit us medically, psychologically or through their service as working dogs (e.g. guide dogs, explosive detection, search and rescue, cancer detection). This Frontiers’ Special Topic has collated the presentations into a broad collection of 14 theoretical and review papers summarizing the latest research and practice in the historical development of our deepening bond with dogs, the physiological and psychological changes that occur during human-dog interactions (to both humans and dogs) as well as the selection, training and welfare of companion animals and working dogs. The overarching goals of this collection are to contribute to the current standard of understanding of human-animal interaction, suggest future directions in applied research, and to consider the interdisciplinary societal implications of the findings.
Article
Crossbreeding has been conducted in many fish species. However, crosses between distant relatives that may result in higher levels of heterosis are hard to conduct due to reproductive isolation. In this study, diploid hybrids (BM) of blunt snout bream (Megalobrama amblycephala, BSB, ♀, order Cypriniformes, 2n = 48) × mandarin fish (order Siniperca chuatsi, MD, ♂, Perciformes, 2n = 48) were successfully produced. BM possessed 48 chromosomes from BSB. The body colour of BM (silver grey with many black spots) was different from that of BSB (silvery white) and MD (yellow with black stripes). The body shape of BM (small head with a slender body) was different from that of BSB (small head with a high back) and MD (body larger and flatter). We confirmed successful hybridization with microsatellite DNA markers and analysed the 5S rDNA patterns among the parental and hybrid lines. BM inherited its 5S rDNA entirely from the female parent (BSB). This study will provide a foundation for fish crossbreeding, and the successful hybrids in this study will potentially be an excellent commercial variety.
Article
We compared the effects of different feeding strategies on hormonal and oxidative stress biomarkers in guide dogs during a specialized training programs. Eight neutered adult dogs belonging to the Labrador retriever breed were divided during the training work into two homogeneous groups for sex (2 males, 2 females), age (17 months ± 1), initial body weight (26.3 kg ± 1) and BCS (4.5 of 9 ± 0.11), and fed two commercial diets with different concentration of energetic nutrients. One diet was a performance diet (HPF) characterized by low-carbohydrate/ high-protein and fat content (29:39:19 % as-fed) and the other a normal maintenance diet (LPF), characterized by high-carbohydrate/ low-protein and fat content (50:24:12 % as-fed). The trial lasted 84 days. At Days 0, 28, 56 and 84, 180 min before the training work (T0) and immediately after (T1) and after 120 min (T2), blood ACTH (Adrenocorticotrophic hormone), cortisol, d-ROMS (Reactive Oxygen Metabolites- derived compounds) and BAP (Biological Antioxidant Potential) were evaluated studied. Lactate was measured at T0 and T1. The statistical model included the effects of Diet (HPF vs. LPF), time (from Day 0 to Day 84, end of the trial), and exercise (T0, T1 and T2) and their interaction. ACTH (P=0.002) and cortisol (P=0.013) showed higher values in the HPF than the LPF group; there were no significant differences were observed for lactate. Time showed no significant difference for any hormones or blood lactate. Exercise significantly (P<0.001) influenced ACTH and cortisol concentrations, showing higher values at T1 than T0 and T2, and with lactate higher (P<0.0001) at T1 than T0. Diet did not influence biomarkers of oxidative stress. Time significantly (P<0.05) influence BAP results but not d-ROMs. Exercise had no effect on BAP results, but d-ROMs were higher at T0 than T2 (P=0.001). There was no interaction effect. The pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis response and the oxidative stress indices could represent an objective method to identify optimal dietary protocols for creating a successful guide dog during the early training period.
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Hybrid vigor or heterocyst is the phenomenon in which progeny of crosses between inbred lines or purebred populations are better than the expected average of the two populations or lines for a particular trait. Utilization of heterocyst (hybrid vigor) is the exclusive goal of crossbreeding. The amount of heterosis maintained in a herd depends on the type of crossbreeding system selected. Hybrid vigor includes greater viability, faster growth rate, greater milk, egg and wool production in animals. Heterocyst is an unexpected deviation from the average of the two parental lines. The cause of heterosis the non-additive gene action (dominance, Overdominance and epistasis).No heterosis is observed for traits governed by additive gene action. Heterosis can occur for a wide variety of performance traits. The traits showing heterosis are called as heterotic traits. However, it tends to be greatest for traits with low heritability and least for traits with high heritability. Traits of low heritability (reproductive traits) are generally most benefited from heterosis. They can be improved through the adequate use of crossbreeding systems.
Article
This study was conducted to ascertain whether the scent detection ability of a donor dog having extraordinary talent in cancer detection can be conserved through cloning. A specially trained dog for colorectal cancer detection was cloned, and she was trained and tested to detect breast cancers using breath samples collected from patients and healthy volunteers. Scent detection sensitivity of the clone was 93.3% and specificity was 99.5%, similar with those of donor (91% and 99%). Furthermore, the clone successfully detected early stage of breast cancers. Therefore, superior canine scent detection ability for cancer screening could be preserved through cloning. © 2015 Korean Society of Veterinary Clinics. All rights reserved.
Article
This research was conducted to grasp the present condition of environmental management relating to Korea detector dogs that performed their duties such as detection and lifesaving. We directly conducted a survey throughout visit to five government agencies. In environmental management case, average length and width of kennels were 1.78 m and 3.50 m, respectively. Types of floor were searched as coating cement, tile, ucrete and concrete. Most of government agencies ventilated kennels using ventilation fan systems with natural ventilation. But there were differences between government agencies in frequencies of the sanitary management items. On the other side, major diseases of the German shepherd breed as a major detector dog were in order of arthritis, measles, earache, and dermatosis. And their daily training time was average 4 hours. Finally, it is thought that these results could be used as a basic data of standard breeding management manual of Korea detector dog.
Article
Previous, small scale, studies have suggested that people of mixed race are perceived as being more attractive than non-mixed-race people. Here, it is suggested that the reason for this is the genetic process of heterosis or hybrid vigour (ie cross-bred offspring have greater genetic fitness than pure-bred offspring). A random sample of 1205 black, white, and mixed-race faces was collected. These faces were then rated for their perceived attractiveness. There was a small but highly significant effect, with mixed-race faces, on average, being perceived as more attractive. This result is seen as a perceptual demonstration of heterosis in humans-a biological process that may have implications far beyond just attractiveness.
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Most kennel owners and veterinarians prefer women assistants because these animalcare professionals assume that women elicit less avoidance from domestic animals than men. To evaluate this assumption, 10 male and 10 female dogs were given two human-reaction tests to assess their behavior in the presence of an unfamiliar man or woman in a commercial kennel setting. Female dogs showed little reluctance to approach and make contact with the unfamiliar human, regardless of the person's gender. In contrast, male dogs were much less likely to approach and make body contact with the unfamiliar man.
Book
From the reviews of the First Edition."An interesting, useful, and well-written book on logistic regression models . . . Hosmer and Lemeshow have used very little mathematics, have presented difficult concepts heuristically and through illustrative examples, and have included references."—Choice"Well written, clearly organized, and comprehensive . . . the authors carefully walk the reader through the estimation of interpretation of coefficients from a wide variety of logistic regression models . . . their careful explication of the quantitative re-expression of coefficients from these various models is excellent."—Contemporary Sociology"An extremely well-written book that will certainly prove an invaluable acquisition to the practicing statistician who finds other literature on analysis of discrete data hard to follow or heavily theoretical."—The StatisticianIn this revised and updated edition of their popular book, David Hosmer and Stanley Lemeshow continue to provide an amazingly accessible introduction to the logistic regression model while incorporating advances of the last decade, including a variety of software packages for the analysis of data sets. Hosmer and Lemeshow extend the discussion from biostatistics and epidemiology to cutting-edge applications in data mining and machine learning, guiding readers step-by-step through the use of modeling techniques for dichotomous data in diverse fields. Ample new topics and expanded discussions of existing material are accompanied by a wealth of real-world examples-with extensive data sets available over the Internet.
Article
Many dogs are found to be unsuitable for training as guide dogs for the blind. Consequently the Royal Guide Dogs for the Blind Association of Australia has embarked on a breeding program to produce a strain of labrador dogs which is suitable for guide dog training. The most common reasons for rejecting dogs are fearfulness, dog distraction, excitability, health and physical reasons and hip dysplasia. The selection program seems to have been successful in improving the success rate mainly by lowering fearfulness, but there has not been a continuing improvement. This is probably due to continual introduction of dogs from other populations into the breeding program. Males suffer from a higher rejection rate due to dog distraction and a lower rejection rate due to fearfulness and excitability than females, so that there is little sex difference in overall success rate. The heritability of success (0.44) is high enough to predict further progress from selection, again mainly against fearfulness. Variation in environment prior to 6 weeks of age, in age when dogs were placed into a private home and in age when males were castrated, had little effect on the success rate.
Article
The behaviour test results of 1310 German shepherds and 797 Labrador retrievers, 450–600 days of age, were evaluated. The purpose was to investigate whether the behaviour tests, previously used at the Swedish Dog Training Centre, could be used to select dogs for different kinds of work and for breeding. Ten behavioural characteristics were scored based on the dogs' reactions in seven different test situations. All tests were conducted by one experienced person.Marked differences in mental characteristics were found between breeds and sexes, but particularly between various categories of service dogs. Regardless of differences in the behaviour profiles of these service categories, there were marked similarities between different categories of service dogs compared with dogs found to be unsuitable for training as service dogs. To interpret the data, an index value was created, based on the test results for each individual dog, and was found to be an excellent instrument for selecting dogs for different types of work.For both breeds the factor analysis resulted in four factors. In comparing the different characteristics, the same pattern was found in both breeds, with the exception of the characteristic prey drive, which seems to be irrelevant for Labrador retrievers. The conclusion is that a subjective evaluation of complex behaviour parameters can be used as a tool for selecting dogs suitable as service dogs. The results also show that the use and correct interpretation of behaviour tests can be enhanced by adjusting the results for each breed and planned service category.
Article
Heritability calculated for characteristics evaluated in behavioural tests can be used as a tool to select different kinds of service dogs. The evaluation was based on the test results of 1310 German shepherds and 797 Labrador retrievers. The heritability for all evaluated characteristics of the two breeds was significantly different from zero with the exception of the characteristics prey drive in Labrador retrievers.The test results for each characteristic were summarised to form an index value which simplified the interpretation of the test results. The heritability for this index value was 0.24 for both German shepherds and Labrador retrievers, a value that must be considered high as it included all tested parameters. The heritability was also calculated for the four factors derived from a factor analysis of the test results. Heritability estimates for these four factors were 0.15 to 0.32The results show that complex behavioural patterns in dogs can be subjectively evaluated by an experienced person and that no more than a few characteristics are needed in order to describe the differences between dogs.Breeding results in a German shepherd population at the Swedish Dog Training Centre (SDTC) improved a relatively short time after the initiation of basing the selection of breeding animals on the index value of each individual animal. German shepherds bred by the SDTC also had higher index values than privately bred dogs which shows the importance of a goal-oriented breeding programme with emphasis on service dog characteristics.Finally different ways in which to collect information about dog behaviour are discussed. It is suggested that a subjective evaluation of certain behaviour characteristics is preferred to a factual description of reactions.
Article
The most important traits causing dogs to be rejected as unsuitable for training as guide-dogs were found to be fearfulness, being too easily distracted, especially by other dogs, and aggressiveness. The guide-dog trainers evaluate these traits and several others using a series of 17 scores. The between-trainer repeatability of these scores varied from 0 to 0.7. Factor analysis of these 17 scores yielded 5 factors, which can be labelled distraction, general performance, sensitivity, fearfulness and fearfulness accompanied by high activity. There were no negative correlations between desirable traits, so it should be possible to obtain an overall improvement in the performance of the dogs. Comparison of dogs from the breeding programme of the Royal Guide Dogs for the Blind Association of Australia with dogs donated to the Association as puppies showed that the breeding programme had improved the dogs in the 3 important traits. Also, dogs reared under the supervision of the Association were superior to dogs donated as adults in these 3 traits. Females were more fearful and distracted by scents but less aggressive and distracted by dogs than males. There was significant genetic variation for fearfulness and possibly for dog distraction, suggesting that future selection on these criteria will further improve the standard of the dogs. These 17 scores, which are given early in a dog's training, have little ability to predict the dog's final performance on specific tasks but they do correlate with the overall reliability of fully trained dogs.
Article
The correlations between measures of activity in different situations, including inhibitory training, were positive but low. Activity in non-stressful situations was independent of fearfulness. There appears to be individual variation between dogs which determines whether a dog responds to fear by increasing or decreasing activity. Fearfulness was correlated with high visual and auditory exploration. General fearfulness was uncorrelated with olfactory exploration, but lack of experience in crowded, noisy places increased both olfactory exploration and fear of certain objects likely to be encountered in such places, and so caused a correlation between these two traits. Dogs which were reared in a home with another dog were less distracted by other dogs. Between 6 and 12 months, the dogs declined in activity and unwanted exploration. Females showed a higher level of activity during inhibitory training and a higher level of olfactory exploration than males.
Article
To document genetic progress in improving hip quality of dogs maintained in a closed breeding colony to produce dogs for training as guides for blind people. Prospective analysis of hip quality records from a breeding trial that encompassed 3 full generations and included some dogs born into the fourth and fifth generations. Hip quality was assessed for 2,037 German Shepherd Dogs and 1,821 Labrador Retrievers from 1980 to 1996. A subjective hip score assigned by 1 radiologist was used to assess hip quality during the study period. In the past 8 years, the distraction index was also used. Genetic change was produced by selecting a small percentage of dogs to be parents of the next generation. Dogs were selected to become parents of the next generation on the basis of estimated breeding values. These were calculated by combining observed values of individual dogs with known relationships in the population pedigrees to predict which dogs were the best candidates for selection as parents. In < 5 generations of selection, the percentage of German Shepherd Dogs with canine hip dysplasia at 12 to 16 months of age decreased from 55 to 24%. Among Labrador Retrievers, the percentage decreased from 30 to 10%. This report gives practitioners documented proof that genetic selection will work to improve hip quality. Dog breeders must be advised to be patient, however, to allow enough generations to elapse to make meaningful genetic change.
Barking up the right tree: breeding, rearing and training the guide dog way
  • D Freeman
Freeman, D., 1991. Barking up the right tree: breeding, rearing and training the guide dog way. Ringpress Books Ltd, UK.