Special Issue "Dog Behaviour, Physiology and Welfare"

A special issue of Animals (ISSN 2076-2615). This special issue belongs to the section "Companion Animals".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (20 December 2019).

Printed Edition Available!
A printed edition of this Special Issue is available here.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Angelo Gazzano
Website
Guest Editor
Dipartimento di Scienze Veterinarie, Università di Pisa, 56124 Pisa, Italy
Dr. Chiara Mariti, DVM, PhD, EBVS - ECAWBM (AWSEL)
Website
Guest Editor
Dipartimento di Scienze Veterinarie, Università di Pisa, 56124 Pisa, Italy
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Dogs were the first animal species to be domesticated, and since then the dog has played a special role in human life. However, the study of dog behaviour has gained interest only in recent decades. Considering the wide range of environments in which dogs live and the kinds of human–dog relationships that can be established, research on dog behaviour is largely increasing, with studies ranging from those having an ethological approach to those more focused on applied ethology, animal welfare, behavioural medicine, etc.

The most common fields of research on dog behaviour concern:

  • Dog-human bond
  • Dog social behaviour
  • Canine behavioural problems
  • Working dogs
  • Dog welfare
  • Dog cognition
  • dog-wolf comparison
  • the behaviour and welfare of other Canids

In all cases, behavioural, physiological, and endocrine parameters can be helpful to better understand “man’s best friend”.

This Special Issue welcomes contributions on these topics in literature reviews, empirical research papers, or opinion pieces.

Prof. Angelo Gazzano
Dr. Chiara Mariti
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • dog-human bond
  • dog social behaviour
  • canine behavioural problem
  • working dogs
  • dog welfare
  • dog cognition

Published Papers (18 papers)

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Open AccessArticle
Disaster Preparedness among Service Dog Puppy- Raisers (Human Subject Sample)
Animals 2020, 10(2), 246; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10020246 - 04 Feb 2020
Abstract
Little is known about the ways in which puppy raisers engage in disaster preparedness for their puppies (or “guide dogs in training”). The aim of this research is to understand disaster preparedness among service dog puppy raisers. A web-based survey was distributed to [...] Read more.
Little is known about the ways in which puppy raisers engage in disaster preparedness for their puppies (or “guide dogs in training”). The aim of this research is to understand disaster preparedness among service dog puppy raisers. A web-based survey was distributed to people raising puppies in a service dog training program (n = 53 complete survey responses). Questions in the survey included items about disaster preparedness and plans for canine safety in hazards events. Out of those who said they had an evacuation plan for their puppy in training, 59% stated they would put the dog in their vehicles for evacuating to safety in the event of a hurricane or other disaster. The odds of first-time puppy raisers who considered evacuation for Hurricane Irma in 2017 was 15.3 times the odds of repeat raisers. Over half the raisers reported that they did not have a disaster kit. Additionally, 82% of respondents indicated that having a service puppy in training makes them feel safer. These results can be used as a foundation for service dog organizations in disaster preparedness among their puppy raiser volunteers and in designing recruitment messages for new volunteers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dog Behaviour, Physiology and Welfare) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle
Salivary Vasopressin as a Potential Non–Invasive Biomarker of Anxiety in Dogs Diagnosed with Separation–Related Problems
Animals 2019, 9(12), 1033; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9121033 - 26 Nov 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Physiological biomarkers of canine anxiety have not been extensively investigated to date. To identify new biomarkers in dogs, we compared behaviorally normal dogs (Control group, N = 13) to dogs diagnosed with separation problems (Case group, N = 13) as they were introduced [...] Read more.
Physiological biomarkers of canine anxiety have not been extensively investigated to date. To identify new biomarkers in dogs, we compared behaviorally normal dogs (Control group, N = 13) to dogs diagnosed with separation problems (Case group, N = 13) as they were introduced into a novel environment in the presence of two strangers and subjected to a short episode of separation and reunion with the owner. During the separation phase, dogs in the Case group explored significantly less than controls and were significantly more persistent in expressing passive stress-coping strategies aimed at seeking proximity to their owners. When the owners returned, dogs with separation distress spent significantly more time jumping up on the strangers than control dogs did. Salivary oxytocin and vasopressin concentrations did not differ between samples taken before and after the separation. However, vasopressin concentrations immediately after separation were significantly higher in the Case than in the Control group and remained higher, although not significantly so, 10 min later. These results indicated that dogs with separation distress became more anxious than typical dogs when separated from their owner in an unfamiliar environment and provided preliminary support for the use of salivary vasopressin as a possible biomarker for anxiety-related responses in dogs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dog Behaviour, Physiology and Welfare) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle
Forgotten, But Not Lost—Alloparental Behavior and Pup–Adult Interactions in Companion Dogs
Animals 2019, 9(12), 1011; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9121011 - 21 Nov 2019
Abstract
Socialization with humans is known to be a pivotal factor in the development of appropriate adult dog behavior, but the role and extent of dog–dog interactions in the first two months of life is rarely studied. Although various forms of alloparental behaviors are [...] Read more.
Socialization with humans is known to be a pivotal factor in the development of appropriate adult dog behavior, but the role and extent of dog–dog interactions in the first two months of life is rarely studied. Although various forms of alloparental behaviors are described in the case of wild-living canids, the social network of companion dogs around home-raised puppies is almost unknown. An international online survey of companion dog breeders was conducted, asking about the interactions of other dogs in the household with the puppies and the pups’ mother. Based on the observations of these breeders, our study showed an intricate network of interactions among adult dogs and puppies below the age of weaning. Alloparental behaviors (including suckling and feeding by regurgitation) were reportedly common. Independent of their sex, other household dogs mostly behaved in an amicable way with the puppies, and in the case of unseparated housing, the puppies reacted with lower fear to the barks of the others. Parousness, sexual status, and age of the adult dogs had an association with how interested the dogs were in interacting with the puppies, and also with how the mother reacted to the other dogs. Our study highlights the possible importance of dog–dog interactions during the early life of puppies in forming stable and low-stress interactions with other dogs later in life. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dog Behaviour, Physiology and Welfare) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle
Early Recognition of Behaviour Problems in Shelter Dogs by Monitoring them in their Kennels after Admission to a Shelter
Animals 2019, 9(11), 875; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9110875 - 28 Oct 2019
Cited by 6
Abstract
Canine behaviour assessments are commonly used in shelters to identify behaviour problems in dogs prior to adoption. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether kennel monitoring of dogs could identify early signs of behaviour problems, thereby facilitating early intervention and better [...] Read more.
Canine behaviour assessments are commonly used in shelters to identify behaviour problems in dogs prior to adoption. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether kennel monitoring of dogs could identify early signs of behaviour problems, thereby facilitating early intervention and better management of dogs displaying behaviour problems. Kennel behaviour was monitored for dogs (n = 38) in their first five days in kennels at a shelter in Brisbane, Australia. This was compared to a formal assessment of exploratory, handling, play, run/freeze, and food guarding behaviour, as well as stranger and fake toddler interactions, and behaviour when the dog was alone, conducted five days after shelter admission. Kennel behaviours associated with fear, anxiety, and arousal in dogs were significantly correlated with the same behaviours in the formal assessment. Positional correlations were also evident. With respect to outcomes, dogs that displayed more whining, tense body posture, standing leaning forward, panting, ears forward, less barking, lowered body and balanced/relaxed body posture, standing still, and standing by the wall had increased odds of failing the behaviour assessment. Over the five days in the kennel, the frequency and duration of fear-related behaviours decreased, suggesting a reduction in arousal as the dog became accustomed to the shelter environment. The study demonstrates that monitoring kennel behaviour could detect early signs of behaviour problems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dog Behaviour, Physiology and Welfare) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle
Socioeconomic Influences on Reports of Canine Welfare Concerns to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) in Queensland, Australia
Animals 2019, 9(10), 711; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9100711 - 23 Sep 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Human–dog relationships are an important contributor to the welfare of dogs, but little is known about the importance of socioeconomic status of the dogs’ owners. We conducted a retrospective study of canine welfare complaints, using Australian government statistics on the socioeconomic status of [...] Read more.
Human–dog relationships are an important contributor to the welfare of dogs, but little is known about the importance of socioeconomic status of the dogs’ owners. We conducted a retrospective study of canine welfare complaints, using Australian government statistics on the socioeconomic status of the inhabitants at the location of the alleged welfare issue. The socioeconomic score of inhabitants at the relevant postcode was assumed to be that of the plaintiff. Our dataset included 107,597 complaints that had been received by RSPCA Queensland between July 2008 and June 2018, each with the following information: the number of dogs involved, dog(s) age, breed(s), suburb, postcode, date received, and complaint code(s) (describing the type of complaint). The median index score for relative social advantage of the locations where the alleged welfare concern occurred was less than the median score for the population of Queensland, suggesting that welfare concerns in dogs were more commonly reported in areas with inhabitants of low socioeconomic status. It was also less if the dog being reported was not of a recognised breed, compared to dogs of recognised breeds. Dogs reported to be in the gundog breed group were in the most socioeconomically advantaged postcodes, followed by toy, hound, non-sporting, working dog, terrier, and utility breed groups. Reports of alleged cruelty, insufficient food and/or water, a dog being not exercised or being confined/tethered, failure to provide shelter or treatment, overcrowding, a dog being in poor condition or living in poor conditions were most likely to be made in relation to dogs in low socioeconomic postcodes. Reports of dogs being left in a hot vehicle unattended were more likely to be made in relation to dogs in high socioeconomic postcodes. It is concluded that both canine welfare complaints and dogs in specific breed groups appear to be related to the owner’s socioeconomic status. This study may be used to improve public awareness and to tailor educational campaigns toward different populations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dog Behaviour, Physiology and Welfare) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle
Investigating the Role of Prolactin as a Potential Biomarker of Stress in Castrated Male Domestic Dogs
Animals 2019, 9(9), 676; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9090676 - 12 Sep 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Prolactin has been recently regarded as a potential biomarker of both acute and chronic stress in several species. Since only few studies until now have focussed on domestic dogs, this study was aimed at evaluating whether prolactin, cortisol and stress behaviour correlated with [...] Read more.
Prolactin has been recently regarded as a potential biomarker of both acute and chronic stress in several species. Since only few studies until now have focussed on domestic dogs, this study was aimed at evaluating whether prolactin, cortisol and stress behaviour correlated with each other in sheltered dogs. Both cortisol and prolactin analysis were performed in serum samples through a hormone-specific ELISA kit. For each dog, a stress score was calculated by summing the number of occurrences of stress-related behaviours. The presence/absence of fear during the time spent in the collection room was also scored for each individual. Results revealed a weak negative correlation between cortisol and prolactin levels. Neither of the hormones was correlated with the stress score, nor did their values seem to be influenced by showing fear in the collection room. The weak negative correlation found between cortisol and prolactin values agrees with results obtained in other studies, indicating that prolactin response might be an alternative to cortisol response. This, together with the high serum prolactin levels compared to those reported by other authors for healthy domestic dogs, may indicate that prolactin might be a good biomarker of chronic stress, and although further studies are needed to better understand the potential role of prolactin in the evaluation of canine welfare. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dog Behaviour, Physiology and Welfare) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle
Examining How Dog ‘Acquisition’ Affects Physical Activity and Psychosocial Well-Being: Findings from the BuddyStudy Pilot Trial
Animals 2019, 9(9), 666; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9090666 - 07 Sep 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Dog owners are more physically active than non-dog owners, but evidence of a causal relationship between dog acquisition and increased physical activity is lacking. Such evidence could inform programs and policies that encourage responsible dog ownership. Randomized controlled trials are the ‘gold standard’ [...] Read more.
Dog owners are more physically active than non-dog owners, but evidence of a causal relationship between dog acquisition and increased physical activity is lacking. Such evidence could inform programs and policies that encourage responsible dog ownership. Randomized controlled trials are the ‘gold standard’ for determining causation, but they are prohibited in this area due to ethical concerns. In the BuddyStudy, we tested the feasibility of using dog fostering as a proxy for dog acquisition, which would allow ethical random assignment. In this single-arm trial, 11 participants fostered a rescue dog for six weeks. Physical activity and psychosocial data were collected at baseline, 6, and 12 weeks. At 6 weeks, mean change in steps/day was 1192.1 ± 2457.8. Mean changes on the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale and the Perceived Stress Scale were −4.9 ± 8.7 and −0.8 ± 5.5, respectively. More than half of participants (55%) reported meeting someone new in their neighborhood because of their foster dog. Eight participants (73%) adopted their foster dog after the 6-week foster period; some maintained improvements in physical activity and well-being at 12 weeks. Given the demonstrated feasibility and preliminary findings of the BuddyStudy, a randomized trial of immediate versus delayed dog fostering is warranted. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dog Behaviour, Physiology and Welfare) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle
Local Dot Motion, Not Global Configuration, Determines Dogs’ Preference for Point-Light Displays
Animals 2019, 9(9), 661; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9090661 - 06 Sep 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Visual perception remains an understudied area of dog cognition, particularly the perception of biological motion where the small amount of previous research has created an unclear impression regarding dogs’ visual preference towards different types of point-light displays. To date, no thorough investigation has [...] Read more.
Visual perception remains an understudied area of dog cognition, particularly the perception of biological motion where the small amount of previous research has created an unclear impression regarding dogs’ visual preference towards different types of point-light displays. To date, no thorough investigation has been conducted regarding which aspects of the motion contained in point-light displays attract dogs. To test this, pet dogs (N = 48) were presented with pairs of point-light displays with systematic manipulation of motion features (i.e., upright or inverted orientation, coherent or scrambled configuration, human or dog species). Results revealed a significant effect of inversion, with dogs directing significantly longer looking time towards upright than inverted dog point-light displays; no effect was found for scrambling or the scrambling-inversion interaction. No looking time bias was found when dogs were presented with human point-light displays, regardless of their orientation or configuration. The results of the current study imply that dogs’ visual preference is driven by the motion of individual dots in accordance with gravity, rather than the point-light display’s global arrangement, regardless their long exposure to human motion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dog Behaviour, Physiology and Welfare) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle
Thyroid and Lipid Status in Guide Dogs During Training: Effects of Dietary Protein and Fat Content
Animals 2019, 9(9), 597; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9090597 - 23 Aug 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Nutrition plays a leading role that most influences thyroid response and energetic metabolism. Aim was to compare the effect of diet on thyroid and lipid status in guide dogs during a 12-weeks training period. Eight Labrador Retrievers were divided into two groups homogeneous [...] Read more.
Nutrition plays a leading role that most influences thyroid response and energetic metabolism. Aim was to compare the effect of diet on thyroid and lipid status in guide dogs during a 12-weeks training period. Eight Labrador Retrievers were divided into two groups homogeneous for sex, age, body weight, and Body Condition Score (BCS) and fed two commercial diets one, HPF, characterized by low-carbohydrate/high-protein/high-fat (29%:39%:19% as-fed) and the other, LPF, by high-carbohydrate/low-protein/low-fat (50%:24%:12% as-fed) content. The serum thriiodothyronine (T3), thyroxine (T4), cholesterol (CHOL), triglycerides (TAGs) and non-esterified fatty acids (NEFA) were determined at Day 0, 28, 56, and 84, before the daily training. Statistical model included the effects of Diet (HPF vs. LPF) and Time (Day 0 to Day 84), and their interaction. In the HPF group, Diet significantly (p < 0.01) increased T4, CHOL, and TAGs and decreased NEFA. In both groups, Time significantly (p < 0.05) increased T4 and TAGs, CHOL at Day 28, and NEFA at Day 56. The interaction did not influence serum hormones and lipid pattern. The adjustments in thyroid and lipid responses to moderate exercise in HPF group were driven mainly by the nutrient composition of the diet in relation to the involvement of metabolic homeostasis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dog Behaviour, Physiology and Welfare) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle
The Impacts of a Reading-to-Dog Programme on Attending and Reading of Nine Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders
Animals 2019, 9(8), 491; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9080491 - 26 Jul 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Poor knowledge is available on the effectiveness of reading to dogs in educational settings, particularly in children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). In this study, we test the hypothesis that reading to a dog improves propensity towards books and motivation to read after [...] Read more.
Poor knowledge is available on the effectiveness of reading to dogs in educational settings, particularly in children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). In this study, we test the hypothesis that reading to a dog improves propensity towards books and motivation to read after the end of the programme, as well as reading and cognitive skills in children with ASD. The study is a prospective, randomized controlled trial, consisting of testing and re-testing after a 10 sessions reading programme with and without the presence of a dog. Nine Children with ASD (6–11 years old) were randomly assigned to a control (CG, reading without a dog, n. 4) or experimental group (EG, reading to a dog, n. 5). Children’s attendance at reading sessions was recorded at each session. Parents’ perceptions were evaluated at the end of the programme to detect changes in children’s attitudes and motivation toward reading. Psychologist-administered validated reading (Cornoldi’s MT2 reading test; test of reading comprehension, TORC; metaphonological competence test, MCF) and cognitive tests (Wechsler intelligence scale for children Wisc IV, Vineland) to all children, at baseline and at the end of the reading programme. Compared with CG children, children in the EG group participated more frequently in the reading sessions, and they were reported to be more motivated readers at home after the programme. However, there were no differences on reading and cognitive tests’ scores either within each group of children or between groups. Further studies are warranted in order to understand whether and how incorporating dogs into a reading programme is beneficial to Children with ASD at the socio-emotional and cognitive level. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dog Behaviour, Physiology and Welfare) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle
Development of a Spatial Discount Task to Measure Impulsive Choices in Dogs
Animals 2019, 9(7), 469; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9070469 - 23 Jul 2019
Abstract
Impulsive choices reflect an individual’s tendency to prefer a smaller immediate reward over a larger delayed one. Here, we have developed a behavioural test which can be easily applied to assess impulsive choices in dogs. Dogs were trained to associate one of two [...] Read more.
Impulsive choices reflect an individual’s tendency to prefer a smaller immediate reward over a larger delayed one. Here, we have developed a behavioural test which can be easily applied to assess impulsive choices in dogs. Dogs were trained to associate one of two equidistant locations with a larger food amount when a smaller amount was presented in the other location, then the smaller amount was placed systematically closer to the dog. Choices of the smaller amount, as a function of distance, were considered a measure of the dog’s tendency to make impulsive choices. All dogs (N = 48) passed the learning phase and completed the entire assessment in under 1 h. Choice of the smaller food amount increased as this was placed closer to the dog. Choices were independent from food motivation, past training, and speed of learning the training phase; supporting the specificity of the procedure. Females showed a higher probability of making impulsive choices, in agreement with analogue sex differences found in human and rodent studies, and supporting the external validity of our assessment. Overall, the findings support the practical applicability and represent a first indication of the validity of this method, making it suitable for investigations into impulsivity in dogs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dog Behaviour, Physiology and Welfare) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle
The Perceived Value of Behavioural Traits in Australian Livestock Herding Dogs Varies with the Operational Context
Animals 2019, 9(7), 448; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9070448 - 16 Jul 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
This study investigated the value that handlers and breeders assign to various behavioural traits in Australian livestock herding dogs. Data were obtained from 811 handlers and breeders through the ‘Australian Farm Dog Survey’. Respondents were asked to consider dogs within four contexts: utility [...] Read more.
This study investigated the value that handlers and breeders assign to various behavioural traits in Australian livestock herding dogs. Data were obtained from 811 handlers and breeders through the ‘Australian Farm Dog Survey’. Respondents were asked to consider dogs within four contexts: utility (livestock herding in both paddocks and yards), mustering (livestock herding in paddocks and along livestock routes), yards (in and around sheds, sale-yards and transport vehicles), and trial (specifically a standard 3-sheep trial), and to rate the value of 16 working manoeuvres (movement sequences used in herding), 11 working attributes (skills or attributes used in herding) and five general attributes (personality traits ascribed to an individual dog). The most valued working manoeuvres were cast, force and gather. Bite, bark and backing were considered of little value in certain contexts, notably the trial context. Across all four contexts, the general attributes most valued in dogs were being trainable, motivated, confident and friendly, while control and trainability were the working attribute traits considered to be of most value. Excitability was revealed to be a ‘Goldilocks’ trait in that respondents preferred not too much or too little but a ‘just right’ amount in their preferred dog. Analysis indicated a handler preference for either specialised dogs for the utility context or dogs who are easy to work with because of a broad range of traits favoured in the yard context. These results reveal both generalities across and the need for specialisation within these four herding contexts. Further investigation may help to reveal how well handlers distinguish between innate and learnt behaviours when selecting and training livestock herding dogs. Identifying which group handlers fit into optimally may assist in selecting suitable dog–human dyads. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dog Behaviour, Physiology and Welfare) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle
Determination of Prolactin in Canine Saliva: Is It Possible to Use a Commercial ELISA Kit?
Animals 2019, 9(7), 418; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9070418 - 04 Jul 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Prolactin has been reported to be a remarkable index of stress response, both acute and chronic, in several species. The use of biological matrixes other than blood is receiving increasing interest in the study of hormones, due to the lower invasiveness in collection. [...] Read more.
Prolactin has been reported to be a remarkable index of stress response, both acute and chronic, in several species. The use of biological matrixes other than blood is receiving increasing interest in the study of hormones, due to the lower invasiveness in collection. This research aimed to investigate the possibility of using a commercial ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) kit for measuring canine prolactin in blood for the quantification of canine prolactin in saliva. Study 1 consisted of a validation protocol, using saliva samples collected from lactating and non-lactating dogs. Study 2 was conducted to investigate a possible correlation between prolactin concentration in saliva and plasma in sheltered dogs by using the same kit. Prolactin values were reliably read only when they came from blood samples, not from saliva, but tended to be low in most of the cases. Study 1 showed that saliva had a matrix effect. In study 2, saliva prolactin levels were low and in 42.9% of cases, not readable. No correlation between prolactin values in plasma and saliva was found (ρ = 0.482; p = 0.274). These findings suggested that the determination of prolactin in dog saliva through an ELISA kit created for measuring prolactin in dog blood was unreliable. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dog Behaviour, Physiology and Welfare) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle
Breed Group Effects on Complaints about Canine Welfare Made to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) Queensland, Australia
Animals 2019, 9(7), 390; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9070390 - 26 Jun 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Cruelty- and neglect-related canine welfare concerns are important welfare and social issues. Dog breed has been identified as a risk factor for bad welfare, and yet its role in different types of canine welfare concerns has not been fully investigated. We conducted a [...] Read more.
Cruelty- and neglect-related canine welfare concerns are important welfare and social issues. Dog breed has been identified as a risk factor for bad welfare, and yet its role in different types of canine welfare concerns has not been fully investigated. We conducted a retrospective study of 107,597 dog welfare complaints received by RSPCA Queensland from July 2008 to June 2018. The breed of the dog involved in the incident was either recorded as stated by the complainant or by the inspector attending the case. Dog breed was divided into groups following the Australian National Kennel Club nomenclature. Dogs of a non-recognised breed were more likely to be reported in welfare complaints than recognised breed dogs. Recognised breed dogs had a greater risk of being reported with poisoning, lack of veterinary support, abuse and being left unattended in a hot vehicle; while non-recognised breed dogs had greater risk of being reported with insufficient shelter, exercise and food/water, as well as overcrowding and abandonment. Utility breeds, terriers and working dogs were most likely to be reported, while toy, non-sporting breeds and gundogs were least likely to be reported. Common complaint types for utility dogs were: insufficient food/water, shelter and exercise, and poor living conditions; for terriers: abandonment, intentional abuses and killing or injuring another animal; for working dogs: insufficient food/water, shelter and exercise; for toy dogs: lack of veterinary care, overcrowding and staying in a hot vehicle alone; for non-sporting dogs: lack of veterinary care, being left in a hot vehicle unattended and poor body conditions; and for hounds: killing or injuring another animal, intentional abuses and poor body conditions. Breed groups rather than breeds may be the best method of breed identification in a public reporting system as they group similar breeds together, and as our research shows, they relate to types of animal welfare complaints. Understanding the relationship between breed group and canine welfare complaints may help authorities improve public education programs and inform decision-making around which breed a new owner should choose. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dog Behaviour, Physiology and Welfare) Printed Edition available
Open AccessArticle
Feeding Enrichment in a Captive Pack of European Wolves (Canis Lupus Lupus): Assessing the Effects on Welfare and on a Zoo’s Recreational, Educational and Conservational Role
Animals 2019, 9(6), 331; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9060331 - 08 Jun 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
This study investigated the effects of two feeding enrichment programs on the behaviour of a captive pack of European wolves (Canis lupus lupus) and their correlation with both zoo visitors’ interest towards the exhibit and their overall perception of the species. [...] Read more.
This study investigated the effects of two feeding enrichment programs on the behaviour of a captive pack of European wolves (Canis lupus lupus) and their correlation with both zoo visitors’ interest towards the exhibit and their overall perception of the species. Behavioural data (exploration, stereotypies, social interactions, activity/inactivity rates) were collected on four male wolves during four two-week long phases: initial control, hidden food, novel object, final control. Three observation sessions were performed daily: before, during and after feeding. Number of visitors and their permanence in front of the exhibit were recorded. After watching the wolves, visitors were asked to fill out a brief questionnaire in order to investigate their perception of captive wolf welfare, as well as their attitude towards wolf conservation issues. Despite the high inter-individual variability in their behavioural response, all wolves seemed to benefit from feeding enrichment. With regard to visitors, interest in the exhibit increased when enrichment was provided. Visitors’ perception of the level of welfare of wolves improved if they attended a feeding session, especially during the novel object phase. Visitors’ attitude towards wolf conservation issues also improved during feeding sessions, regardless of enrichment provision. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dog Behaviour, Physiology and Welfare) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessArticle
A Retrospective Analysis of Complaints to RSPCA Queensland, Australia, about Dog Welfare
Animals 2019, 9(5), 282; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9050282 - 27 May 2019
Cited by 8
Abstract
Animal neglect and cruelty are important welfare and social issues. We conducted an epidemiological study of dog welfare complaints and identified risk factors. The retrospective study included 107,597 dog welfare complaints received by RSPCA Queensland from July 2008 to June 2018. The risk [...] Read more.
Animal neglect and cruelty are important welfare and social issues. We conducted an epidemiological study of dog welfare complaints and identified risk factors. The retrospective study included 107,597 dog welfare complaints received by RSPCA Queensland from July 2008 to June 2018. The risk factors considered were the age of dogs and the year of being reported. The number of complaints received each year increased by 6.2% per year. The most common complaints were poor dog body conformation, insufficient food and/or water, dogs receiving inadequate exercise, and dogs being confined or tethered. Increasing numbers were most evident for poor living conditions and leaving dogs in a hot vehicle unattended, both of which may have resulted from increasing public awareness. The majority of complaints were neglect-related rather than related to deliberate cruelty. Compared with puppies, adult dogs were more likely to be reported to have been poisoned, left unattended in a hot car or abandoned, as well as to have had inadequate exercise and shelter. Reported puppies were more likely to be alleged to have experienced cruelty, lack of veterinary support, overcrowding, poor living and health conditions, and inappropriate surgery. In conclusion, animal neglect was the most commonly reported welfare concern in dogs. Due to an assumed increasing public awareness of some types of cruelty, the trends of reported concerns differed. Adult dogs and puppies were reported to be involved in different types of welfare concerns. Strategies to address cruelty to dogs can be informed by an understanding of risk factors and trends in types of cruelty. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dog Behaviour, Physiology and Welfare) Printed Edition available
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Review

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Open AccessReview
Back to the Future: A Glance Over Wolf Social Behavior to Understand Dog–Human Relationship
Animals 2019, 9(11), 991; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9110991 - 18 Nov 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
This review focuses on wolf sociobiology to delineate the traits of cooperative baggage driven by natural selection (wolf-wolf cooperation) and better understand the changes obtained by artificial selection (dog-human cooperation). We selected some behaviors of the dog’s ancestors that provide the basis for [...] Read more.
This review focuses on wolf sociobiology to delineate the traits of cooperative baggage driven by natural selection (wolf-wolf cooperation) and better understand the changes obtained by artificial selection (dog-human cooperation). We selected some behaviors of the dog’s ancestors that provide the basis for the expression of a cooperative society, such as dominance relationships, leverage power, post-aggressive strategies, and playful dynamics between pack members. When possible, we tried to compare the data on wolves with those coming from the dog literature. Wolves can negotiate commodities when the interacting subjects occupy different ranking positions by bargaining social tolerance with helping and support. They are able to manage group disruption by engaging in sophisticated post-conflict maneuvers, thus restoring the relationship between the opponents and reducing the spreading of aggression in the group. Wolves engage in social play also as adults to manipulate social relationships. They are able to flexibly adjust their playful interactions to minimize the risk of escalation. Complex cognitive abilities and communicative skills are probably the main proximate causes for the evolution of inter-specific cooperation in wolves. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dog Behaviour, Physiology and Welfare) Printed Edition available
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Open AccessErratum
Erratum: Clay, L.; Paterson, M.; Bennett, P.; Perry, G.; Phillips, C. Early Recognition of Behaviour Problems in Shelter Dogs by Monitoring Them in Their Kennels after Admission to a Shelter. Animals 2019, 9, 875
Animals 2019, 9(12), 1150; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9121150 - 15 Dec 2019
Abstract
The authors wish to make the following corrections to their paper [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dog Behaviour, Physiology and Welfare) Printed Edition available
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