Reliability and Validity of a Dog Personality and Unwanted Behavior Survey
Department of Veterinary Biosciences, University of Helsinki, 00014 Helsinki, Finland
Department of Medical and Clinical Genetics, University of Helsinki, 00014 Helsinki, Finland
Folkhälsan Research Center, 00290 Helsinki, Finland
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 26 March 2021 / Revised: 14 April 2021 / Accepted: 21 April 2021 / Published: 24 April 2021
Dogs have distinct personalities, meaning differences between individuals that persist throughout their lives. However, it is still unclear what traits are required to define the whole personality of dogs. Personality and unwanted behavior are often studied using behavioral questionnaires, but researchers should ensure that these questionnaires are reliable and valid, meaning that they measure the behavior traits they were intended to measure. In this study, we first examined what traits define a dog’s personality. We discovered seven personality traits: Insecurity, Training focus, Energy, Aggressiveness/dominance, Human sociability, Dog sociability and Perseverance. We also studied six unwanted behavior traits: noise sensitivity, fearfulness, aggression (including barking, stranger directed aggression, owner directed aggression and dog directed aggression), fear of surfaces and heights, separation anxiety, and impulsivity/inattention (including hyperactivity/impulsivity and inattention). We examined the reliability of these traits by asking some dog owners to answer to the questionnaire twice, several weeks apart, and by asking another family member to answer the questionnaire of the same dog. Furthermore, we studied the validity of these traits by forming predictions based on previous literature. Based on our results, this personality and unwanted behavior questionnaire is a good tool to study dog behavior.