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A standardized behaviour test for potential guide dog puppies: Methods and association with subsequent success in guide dog training

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Lucy Asher


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An early understanding of behavioral suitability for guiding work in domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) would be useful for organizations which train dogs as mobility aids, such as the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association. We explored the potential for a standardized test of behavior in young dogs to reflect subsequent success in guide dog training. Five hundred eighty-seven potential guide dogs were exposed to a series of eight stimuli at 6-8 weeks of age. The responses of dogs were scored on a 7-point scale according to either responsiveness to human assessor or to environmental stimuli, on stimuli comprising following when called; retrieve; gentle restraint; noise; stroking; a moving toy squirrel; encouragement to go through a tunnel; and encouragement to go over a ramp. Five of these stimuli showed some association with success in guide dog training, and three of these stimuli could be usefully combined in a logistic regression model of success in training. There is potential for this test to be used to predict suitability for guiding work but adjustments to the scoring protocol are recommended.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Asher L, Blythe S, Roberts R, Toothill L, Craigon PJ, Evans KM, Green MJ, England GCW

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research

Year: 2013

Volume: 8

Issue: 6

Pages: 431-438

Print publication date: 01/11/2013

Online publication date: 27/09/2013

Acceptance date: 18/08/2013

ISSN (print): 1558-7878

ISSN (electronic): 1878-7517

Publisher: Elsevier


DOI: 10.1016/j.jveb.2013.08.004


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