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Article

Reliability and Validity of a Dog Personality and Unwanted Behavior Survey

by 1,2,3, 1,2,3, 1,2,3, 1,2,3, 1,2,3 and 1,2,3,*
1
Department of Veterinary Biosciences, University of Helsinki, 00014 Helsinki, Finland
2
Department of Medical and Clinical Genetics, University of Helsinki, 00014 Helsinki, Finland
3
Folkhälsan Research Center, 00290 Helsinki, Finland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2021, 11(5), 1234; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11051234
Received: 26 March 2021 / Revised: 14 April 2021 / Accepted: 21 April 2021 / Published: 24 April 2021
(This article belongs to the Section Companion Animals)
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.
Dogs have distinct, consistent personalities, but the structure of dog personality is still unclear. Dog personality and unwanted behavior are often studied with behavioral questionnaires. Even though many questionnaires are reliable and valid measures of behavior, all new questionnaire tools should be extensively validated. Here, we examined the structure of personality and six unwanted behavior questionnaire sections: noise sensitivity, fearfulness, aggression, fear of surfaces and heights, separation anxiety and impulsivity/inattention with factor analyses. Personality consisted of seven factors: Insecurity, Training focus, Energy, Aggressiveness/dominance, Human sociability, Dog sociability and Perseverance. Most unwanted behavior sections included only one factor, but the impulsivity/inattention section divided into two factors (Hyperactivity/impulsivity and Inattention) and the aggression section into four factors (Barking, Stranger directed aggression, Owner directed aggression and Dog directed aggression). We also examined the internal consistency, test-retest reliability, inter-rater reliability and convergent validity of the 17 personality and unwanted behavior traits and discovered excellent reliability and validity. Finally, we investigated the discriminant validity of the personality traits, which was good. Our findings indicate that this personality and unwanted behavior questionnaire is a reliable and valid tool that can be used to study personality and behavior extensively. View Full-Text
Keywords: dog personality; unwanted behavior; behavior problems; behavior assessment; test-retest reliability; inter-rater reliability; convergent validity; discriminant validity; personality structure; survey study dog personality; unwanted behavior; behavior problems; behavior assessment; test-retest reliability; inter-rater reliability; convergent validity; discriminant validity; personality structure; survey study
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MDPI and ACS Style

Salonen, M.; Mikkola, S.; Hakanen, E.; Sulkama, S.; Puurunen, J.; Lohi, H. Reliability and Validity of a Dog Personality and Unwanted Behavior Survey. Animals 2021, 11, 1234. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11051234

AMA Style

Salonen M, Mikkola S, Hakanen E, Sulkama S, Puurunen J, Lohi H. Reliability and Validity of a Dog Personality and Unwanted Behavior Survey. Animals. 2021; 11(5):1234. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11051234

Chicago/Turabian Style

Salonen, Milla, Salla Mikkola, Emma Hakanen, Sini Sulkama, Jenni Puurunen, and Hannes Lohi. 2021. "Reliability and Validity of a Dog Personality and Unwanted Behavior Survey" Animals 11, no. 5: 1234. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11051234

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