Next Article in Journal
Apulo-Calabrese and Crossbreed Pigs Show Different Physiological Response and Meat Quality Traits after Short Distance Transport
Previous Article in Journal
The Effect of Extensive Human Presence at an Early Age on Stress Responses and Reactivity of Juvenile Ostriches towards Humans
Article Menu
Issue 10 (October) cover image

Export Article

Open AccessArticle
Animals 2018, 8(10), 176; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani8100176

You Are Not My Handler! Impact of Changing Handlers on Dogs’ Behaviours and Detection Performance

School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, Wildlife Science Unit, The University of Queensland, Gatton Campus, Warrego Highway, Gatton 4343, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 4 September 2018 / Revised: 24 September 2018 / Accepted: 5 October 2018 / Published: 9 October 2018
(This article belongs to the Section Companion Animals)
Full-Text   |   PDF [1014 KB, uploaded 9 October 2018]   |  

Simple Summary

Detection dogs and their handlers must be a bonded team. Changing a dog’s handler, which occurs in certain organisations or through change of ownership, may generate team conflict and reduce detection performance. Through testing dogs at detection tasks with a familiar and unfamiliar handler, we found that dogs scored higher for detection accuracy with their familiar handler. The dogs were also less distracted with their familiar handler. These results suggest that changing a dog’s handler influences both their detection accuracy and behaviours. This may impact how working dogs are managed and their welfare.

Abstract

Dog-handler relationships can directly impact team success. Changing a dog’s handler may therefore compromise detection performance. However, there are currently few studies which support this. This research explored the performance and behavioural impact of changing a dog’s handler. Nine dogs trained at scent detection were accuracy tested with a familiar and unfamiliar handler. Both handlers were female with similar dog handling experience. The dogs were tested along brick lines containing target, non-target, and control samples. Testing was separated into four sessions, with each session having 36 samples. The dogs’ accuracy scores were then calculated and testing footage behaviour coded. The dogs had significantly higher sensitivity (p = 0.045) and negative predictive value (NPV) (p = 0.041) scores when handled by the familiar handler. With the unfamiliar handler the dogs performed more stress-related behaviours, and were distracted for a higher proportion of time (p = 0.012). Time spent distracted was negatively correlated to detection performance (correlation = −0.923, p < 0.001). With the unfamiliar handler the dogs’ performance did not improve throughout testing (p = 0.553). This research demonstrates how these dogs’ detection performances were impacted by changing handlers. Future research is required to determine if professional dog-handler teams are impacted similarly. View Full-Text
Keywords: dogs; dog handler; detection performance; behaviour dogs; dog handler; detection performance; behaviour
Figures

Figure 1

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).
SciFeed

Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Jamieson, L.T.J.; Baxter, G.S.; Murray, P.J. You Are Not My Handler! Impact of Changing Handlers on Dogs’ Behaviours and Detection Performance. Animals 2018, 8, 176.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics

1

Comments

[Return to top]
Animals EISSN 2076-2615 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top