Matching Items (27)

The Welfare of Shelter Dogs: Recommended Modifications to Current Federal Standards Based on Research Findings

Description

Animal shelters are a place of refuge for homeless dogs or those rescued from neglectful or abusive situations. There are countless animal shelters of various forms across the nation. However, when it comes to the welfare of dogs at these

Animal shelters are a place of refuge for homeless dogs or those rescued from neglectful or abusive situations. There are countless animal shelters of various forms across the nation. However, when it comes to the welfare of dogs at these facilities, federal standards fall short. Reputable third-party organizations have created guidelines for shelters to assist them in providing adequate care for their animals. Yet, even these guidelines fail to incorporate several research findings that can potentially improve canine welfare and adoption chances. This three-part creative project focuses on investigating the welfare standards for shelter dogs. The first part of the project is a report that reviewed relevant literature to reveal several aspects of canine welfare that federal standards need to address, and made suggestions to improve federal standards based on these findings. It was found that, in terms of housing, federal guidelines should recommend larger primary enclosures and encourage compatible group housing. Regulations for sound levels in the shelter environment need to be put in place to reduce the stress and potential hearing damage caused by high noise levels. For diet purposes, standards should be raised to require the provision of high quality food. Enrichment, human interaction, and training should be integrated into shelter programs as required daily activities. The literature also indicates a need for further research into visitors of animal shelters to identify how shelters can improve visitors' experiences and increase adoptions. Finally, a discussion needs to be started discussing the ethics of keeping dogs confined in a shelter environment long-term, considering its impact on their overall welfare. The second part of the project involved compiling the findings from the report into a presentation for the staff of Lost Our Home Pet Rescue, a local animal shelter. Since Lost Our Home is in the process of planning a renovation of their facility, the presentation also included literature-based recommendations for the shelter's new facility to improve the overall welfare of the dogs in their care. The final part of this project is the author's personal reflection on the volunteer work she did at Lost Our Home over the course of this project.

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Date Created
2018-05

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Who's Top Dog? The Sociability towards Humans of Six Different Canid Types

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We compared sociability towards humans of domesticated and tame members of several Canidae: Belyaev's fox (Vulpes vulpes), red fox (Vulpes vulpes), gray wolf (Canis lupus), dingo (Canis l. dingo), New Guinea singing dog (Canis l. dingo), and dog (Canis l.

We compared sociability towards humans of domesticated and tame members of several Canidae: Belyaev's fox (Vulpes vulpes), red fox (Vulpes vulpes), gray wolf (Canis lupus), dingo (Canis l. dingo), New Guinea singing dog (Canis l. dingo), and dog (Canis l. familiaris). We defined sociability as motivation or willingness to engage with humans. Our operationalized definition of sociability is the latency to approach (LTA) the human experimenter and the amount of time the canid spent within one meter of the human experimenter (PTC). We added an unfamiliar and familiar experimenter condition to deduce whether or not canids discriminated on who they were more social with: an owner or a stranger. To each experimenter condition we added a passive and active phase to discern whether or not canids were more social when called or not. Across all conditions and phases dogs were significantly more social than all other canid types. We concluded genetic differences due to domestication and environmental differences due to socialization accounted for sociability differences seen in dogs compared to the other canid types.

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Date Created
2018-05

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Animal Assisted Activities: An Experimental Comparison Study of Therapy Dogs versus Massages to Alleviate Short-Term Stress

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Animal assisted activities and therapy have demonstrated efficacy but the question remains of whether the animals themselves are the mechanism of change or if other factors mediate this relationship. We investigated novelty and touch as mediators between therapy dogs and

Animal assisted activities and therapy have demonstrated efficacy but the question remains of whether the animals themselves are the mechanism of change or if other factors mediate this relationship. We investigated novelty and touch as mediators between therapy dogs and stress reduction as no other study has done both. Additionally, we were interested in whether the belief that a treatment is relaxing or simply providing a break acted as mediators. We explored these relationships using three conditions: therapy dog interaction, massage, and no-treatment control. Interacting with a therapy dog is similar to receiving a massage in each of the mediators of interest. Thus, should the therapy dogs outperform the massage in relieving stress, it suggests something there is something unique about the dogs themselves, beyond the mediators held constant for both the therapy dog and massage condition. We included the no-treatment control to determine whether treatment at all was effective in reducing stress. We tested 40 participants aged 18 to 43 years old over the course of three days. Participants were measured pre-treatment using two self-report surveys of stress, the Stress Overload Scale- Short (SOS-S) and the Stress Appraisal Measure (SAM) as well as a physiological indicator of stress, heart rate variability (HRV) measured by the Scosche Rhythm24 Waterproof Armband Heart Rate Monitor. Participants were randomly assigned to a condition for seven minutes. Afterwards, all measures were readministered. We found no significant interaction of time on condition nor any main effect of condition on any of the measures. However, we found significant main effects of time on both subscales of the SOS-S and the threat, centrality, controllable-by-others, and stressfulness subscales of the SAM. We are unable to determine whether there is a unique benefit of therapy dogs themselves but overall, the event was effective in reducing stress as reported by the participants. We recommend continued investigation of mediators in animal assisted activities and therapy.

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2019-12

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What’s in a Name? Effect of Breed Perceptions & Labeling on Attractiveness, Adoptions, & Length of Stay for Pit-Bull-Type Dogs

Description

Previous research has indicated that certain breeds of dogs stay longer in shelters than others. However, exactly how breed perception and identification influences potential adopters' decisions remains unclear. Current dog breed identification practices in animal shelters are often based upon

Previous research has indicated that certain breeds of dogs stay longer in shelters than others. However, exactly how breed perception and identification influences potential adopters' decisions remains unclear. Current dog breed identification practices in animal shelters are often based upon information supplied by the relinquishing owner, or staff determination based on the dog's phenotype. However, discrepancies have been found between breed identification as typically assessed by welfare agencies and the outcome of DNA analysis. In Study 1, the perceived behavioral and adoptability characteristics of a pit-bull-type dog were compared with those of a Labrador Retriever and Border Collie. How the addition of a human handler influenced those perceptions was also assessed. In Study 2, lengths of stay and perceived attractiveness of dogs that were labeled as pit bull breeds were compared to dogs that were phenotypically similar but were labeled as another breed at an animal shelter. The latter dogs were called "lookalikes." In Study 3, we compared perceived attractiveness in video recordings of pit-bull-type dogs and lookalikes with and without breed labels. Lastly, data from an animal shelter that ceased applying breed labeling on kennels were analyzed, and lengths of stay and outcomes for all dog breeds, including pit bulls, before and after the change in labeling practice were compared. In total, these findings suggest that breed labeling influences potential adopters' perceptions and decision-making. Given the inherent complexity of breed assignment based on morphology coupled with negative breed perceptions, removing breed labels is a relatively low-cost strategy that will likely improve outcomes for dogs in animal shelters.

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2016-03-23

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The Effect of Inbreeding and Life History Traits on the Risk of Cancer Mortality in Dogs

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Due to artificial selection, dogs have high levels of phenotypic diversity, yet, there appears to be low genetic diversity within individual breeds. Through their domestication from wolves, dogs have gone through a series of population bottlenecks, which has resulted in

Due to artificial selection, dogs have high levels of phenotypic diversity, yet, there appears to be low genetic diversity within individual breeds. Through their domestication from wolves, dogs have gone through a series of population bottlenecks, which has resulted in a reduction in genetic diversity, with a large amount of linkage disequilibrium and the persistence of deleterious mutations. This has led to an increased susceptibility to a multitude of diseases, including cancer. To study the effects of artificial selection and life history characteristics on the risk of cancer mortality, we collected cancer mortality data from four studies as well as the percent of heterozygosity, body size, lifespan and breed group for 201 dog breeds. We also collected specific types of cancer breeds were susceptible to and compared the dog cancer mortality patterns to the patterns observed in other mammals. We found a relationship between cancer mortality rate and heterozygosity, body size, lifespan as well as breed group. Higher levels of heterozygosity were also associated with longer lifespan. These results indicate larger breeds, such as Irish Water Spaniels, Flat-coated Retrievers and Bernese Mountain Dogs, are more susceptible to cancer, with lower heterozygosity and lifespan. These breeds are also more susceptible to sarcomas, as opposed to carcinomas in smaller breeds, such as Miniature Pinschers, Chihuahuas, and Pekingese. Other mammals show that larger and long-lived animals have decreased cancer mortality, however, within dog breeds, the opposite relationship is observed. These relationships could be due to the trade-off between cellular maintenance and growing fast and large, with higher expression of growth factors, such as IGF-1. This study further demonstrates the relationships between cancer mortality, heterozygosity, and life history traits and exhibits dogs as an important model organism for understanding the relationship between genetics and health.

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Date Created
2017-12

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Reducing Fear in Canine Veterinary Appointments Through Fear Free Tactics

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In recent years, many strides have been taken to analyze dog (Canis lupus familiaris) fear behavior. Studies have found that in a veterinary setting, low posture behaviors in dogs are indicative of fear in the animal (Ortolani and Olh, 2014;

In recent years, many strides have been taken to analyze dog (Canis lupus familiaris) fear behavior. Studies have found that in a veterinary setting, low posture behaviors in dogs are indicative of fear in the animal (Ortolani and Olh, 2014; Stanford, 1981). Other studies found that short term environmental stress can be measured through repetitive behaviors that are paired with high levels of urinary and salivary cortisol (Hiby et al., 2006; Hekma et al., 2012). In order to reduce these commonly seen fear behaviors, veterinarians can purchase the Fear Free Certification program that focuses on an animal's emotional well-being in a veterinary appointment. This study sought to quantify the differences in fear behaviors during veterinary appointments at a traditional veterinary hospital and a Fear Free certified veterinary hospital. The results show that there is a significant decrease in total head and tail fear behaviors at the Fear Free Certified hospital which suggests that the Fear Free certification does make a difference in a dog's emotional well-being at a veterinary appointment. This is important for the future of veterinary medicine to maintain happy clients and a safer work environment.

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Date Created
2018-05

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Empathy and Pro-Human Social Behavior in Dogs: Will Dogs Attempt to Rescue a Person in Distress?

Description

There are many anecdotal stories of dogs rescuing their owners from dangerous situations, but this rescue behavior has yet to be shown in an experimental setting. Studies have shown that dogs behave differently towards crying humans, but do not seek

There are many anecdotal stories of dogs rescuing their owners from dangerous situations, but this rescue behavior has yet to be shown in an experimental setting. Studies have shown that dogs behave differently towards crying humans, but do not seek help for their owners when they are in distress. This study sought to determine if a dog could recognize when its owner was in distress and would attempt to rescue the owner. The experiment consisted of three conditions: a distress condition to determine how dogs respond to an owner calling for help, a reading condition to control for proximity-seeking and sound, and a food control to use as a basis for motivation and door-opening ability of the dog. Sixty dogs were tested in all three conditions in a pseudo-random order so that an equal number of dogs completed the conditions in each order. 38% of the dogs opened the apparatus for any condition, while 32% opened for the food and distress conditions and 27% opened for the reading condition, which shows that rescue in general is unlikely. There was no significant difference in the proportion of dogs who opened the apparatus for each condition, indicating that dogs are no more likely to rescue their distressed owners than they are to open the apparatus for other conditions and may not be able to sense that the owner is in distress. The similarities in the success rates also show that the owner can be just as motivating for a dog as food. Overall, the low success rates suggest that dogs are not generally likely to rescue a person who is trapped, even when they are calling for help.

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Date Created
2018-05

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Spatial Memory Impairments as a Function of Increasing Age in Pet Dogs

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Previous research pertaining to dog memory and cognition has been confined mainly to samples of colony dogs and therefore can be hard to generalize to a larger population of pet dogs and varying breeds. The present study focused entirely on

Previous research pertaining to dog memory and cognition has been confined mainly to samples of colony dogs and therefore can be hard to generalize to a larger population of pet dogs and varying breeds. The present study focused entirely on pet dogs of many different breeds, rather than colony or laboratory animals for the purposes of accessibility, affordability, and novelty. Methods: We presented the dogs with a memory task in the form of a game in which the dogs chose to search for food at one of two locations at varying delay intervals, with a maximum time limit of one hour per dog. We expected our data to show a significant decrease in memory capacity and an increase in error rates among older dogs as compared to younger dogs; these results would allow us to conclude that it is likely many dogs, much like humans, experience various cognitive deficits as a function of increasing age. Results: Using one-factor ANOVA and linear and curvilinear regression analyses, we examined the relationship between the independent variable, age (individual dog ages as well as three generalized age categories), and three dependent variables. The dependent variables were: (a) percentage of correct choices at a 60 second delay interval, (b) maximum delay interval attempted (MDIA), and (c) the maximum delay interval that was completed above chance level (50%) (MDAC). We found significant results to support our hypotheses that aged dogs show spatial memory and cognitive deficits in comparison with young and middle-aged dogs, and that age can be considered a marginally significant predictor of spatial memory capacity.

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2018-12

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Structural Variants in Genes Associated With Human Williams-Beuren Syndrome Underlie Stereotypical Hypersociability in Domestic Dogs

Description

Although considerable progress has been made in understanding the genetic basis of morphologic traits (for example, body size and coat color) in dogs and wolves, the genetic basis of their behavioral divergence is poorly understood. An integrative approach using both

Although considerable progress has been made in understanding the genetic basis of morphologic traits (for example, body size and coat color) in dogs and wolves, the genetic basis of their behavioral divergence is poorly understood. An integrative approach using both behavioral and genetic data is required to understand the molecular underpinnings of the various behavioral characteristics associated with domestication. We analyze a 5-Mb genomic region on chromosome 6 previously found to be under positive selection in domestic dog breeds. Deletion of this region in humans is linked to Williams-Beuren syndrome (WBS), a multisystem congenital disorder characterized by hypersocial behavior. We associate quantitative data on behavioral phenotypes symptomatic of WBS in humans with structural changes in the WBS locus in dogs. We find that hypersociability, a central feature of WBS, is also a core element of domestication that distinguishes dogs from wolves. We provide evidence that structural variants in GTF2I and GTF2IRD1, genes previously implicated in the behavioral phenotype of patients with WBS and contained within the WBS locus, contribute to extreme sociability in dogs. This finding suggests that there are commonalities in the genetic architecture of WBS and canine tameness and that directional selection may have targeted a unique set of linked behavioral genes of large phenotypic effect, allowing for rapid behavioral divergence of dogs and wolves, facilitating coexistence with humans.

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Date Created
2017-07-19

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In-Kennel Behavior Predicts Length of Stay in Shelter Dogs

Description

Previous empirical evaluations of training programs aimed at improving dog adoption rates assume that dogs exhibiting certain behaviors are more adoptable. However, no systematic data are available to indicate that the spontaneous behavior of shelter dogs has an effect on

Previous empirical evaluations of training programs aimed at improving dog adoption rates assume that dogs exhibiting certain behaviors are more adoptable. However, no systematic data are available to indicate that the spontaneous behavior of shelter dogs has an effect on adopter preference. The aim of the present study was to determine whether any behaviors that dogs exhibit spontaneously in the presence of potential adopters were associated with the dogs' length of stay in the shelter. A sample of 289 dogs was videotaped for 1 min daily throughout their stay at a county shelter. To account for differences in adopter behavior, experimenters varied from solitary passive observers to pairs of interactive observers. Dogs behaved more attentively to active observers. To account for adopter preference for morphology, dogs were divided into “morphologically preferred” and “non-preferred” groups. Morphologically preferred dogs were small, long coated, ratters, herders, and lap dogs. No theoretically significant differences in behavior were observed between the two different dog morphologies. When accounting for morphological preference, three behaviors were found to have a significant effect on length of stay in all dogs: leaning or rubbing on the enclosure wall (increased median length of stay by 30 days), facing away from the front of the enclosure (increased by 15 days), and standing (increased by 7 days). When combinations of behaviors were assessed, back and forth motion was found to predict a longer stay (increased by 24 days). No consistent behavioral changes were observed due to time spent at the shelter. These findings will allow shelters to focus behavioral modification efforts only on behaviors likely to influence adopters' choices.

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Date Created
2014-12-31