Special Issue "Fundamentals of Clinical Animal Behaviour"

A special issue of Animals (ISSN 2076-2615). This special issue belongs to the section "Human-Animals Interactions, Animal Behaviour and Emotion".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 August 2019).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Daniel Mills
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
University of Lincoln, School of Life Sciences, Lincoln, United Kingdom
Interests: animal cognition; animal welfare; clinical animals behaviour; individual differences; veterinary behaviour; psychopharmacy; life skills; temperament; human animal interactions; companion animals; dog behaviour; cat behaviour; horse behaviour; perception; emotion; animal emotion
Assoc. Prof. Jaume Fatjó
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Psychiatry and Forensic Medicine, Autonomous University of Barcelona, 08193 Bellaterra, Spain
Interests: neuroscience; animal behavior; neuropsychology; veterinary medicine; behavioral science; behavioral medicine; dogs; animal welfare; cats; behavioral animal models

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We are pleased to announce a Special Edition of the journal Animals, which we hope will make a major contribution to our thinking about clinical animal behaviour. Animal behaviour problems are common and arise as a result of multiple and diverse issues, ranging from simple misperceptions of behaviour, to conditioned behaviours and medical issues. The scientific foundations are therefore multidisciplinary, as are the techniques used in diagnosis and treatment. However, these matters are rarely discussed in any depth in the peer reviewed literature. In this Special Issue, we are seeking to bring together the latest thinking on this topic, from theoretical issues to the latest research that challenges and enhances our understanding of the nature, management, and impact of these problems. As a result of the generous sponsorship of Boehringer Ingelheim and Ceva Sante Animale, we are able to waive the normal page processing fee for up to 15 of the manuscripts accepted for publication; further papers will be included in the Special Issue in accordance with the normal terms and conditions of Animals.

As this will be a Special Edition of the open access publication Animals, it will be freely available to practitioners, researchers, and the public. We are particularly keen to receive well-argued contributions relating to the fundamental underpinnings of the discipline, such as the pros and cons of different paradigms for studying and managing problem behaviour, the concept of pathology in relation to problem behaviour, and so on. We are also particularly keen to receive contributions relating to new/emerging issues, such as the veterinary/medical aspects of behaviour problems, which may provide initial evidence of the new considerations relevant to diagnosis and management. We also welcome submissions exploring aspects of the human–animal bond that could have an impact on the assessment and management of behaviour problems. We will consider all submissions relevant to the discipline received before the deadline of 31 August 2019. It is also worth noting that an association with this Special Edition may help enhance the visibility of your work.

As the number of free publications is limited, we are asking for anyone wishing for their work to be considered for publication with a fee waiver, to submit an initial abstract (500 words) to Rita Meng () by 31 May 2019. Please ensure that your submission is clearly marked in both the file name and title, with “Fundamentals of Clinical Animal Behaviour, Special Issue Fee Waiver Request”. Please note, an initial acceptance at this stage does not imply final acceptance, which will be subject to the normal peer-review process. When submitting your abstract, you should also explain why you wish to be considered for a fee waiver. Priority will be given to papers deemed to have the strongest scientific merit or to make a major contribution to our fundamental thinking about the discipline, those who may lack the funds for their research (e.g., self-funding PhD students), and fundamental papers that, by the nature of their scope, may not be readily considered by other journals. All full submissions (fee free or not) must be received by 31 August.

We very much hope you will join us in trying to produce a very special publication.

Prof. Daniel Mills
Assoc. Prof. Jaume Fatjó
Guest Editors

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Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Animals is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1600 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • animal behaviour
  • animal emotion
  • animal motivation
  • training
  • problem behaviour
  • pets
  • veterinary behaviour

Published Papers (12 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
A Case-Controlled Comparison of Behavioural Arousal Levels in Urine Spraying and Latrining Cats
Animals 2020, 10(1), 117; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10010117 - 10 Jan 2020
Abstract
It is often suggested that both latrining and spraying in the home are associated with increased stress in cats. However, the scientific evidence for this is weak. We therefore examined faecal cortisol metabolite (FCM) levels in subjects using a case-control design. Eleven spraying [...] Read more.
It is often suggested that both latrining and spraying in the home are associated with increased stress in cats. However, the scientific evidence for this is weak. We therefore examined faecal cortisol metabolite (FCM) levels in subjects using a case-control design. Eleven spraying and 12 problematic latrining cats (assessed as healthy after detailed medical examinations on an initial population of 18 spraying and 23 latrining cats) were assessed along with behaviourally normal and similarly healthy control subjects from the same multi-cat (n = 3–9) households. Individual faecal samples were collected by owners from both “case” and “control” cats after observing them defecate in all but one pair in each group. A total of five samples per cat (typically taken on a weekly basis) were collected and submitted to extraction procedures prior to FCM analysis via an 11-oxoaetiocholanolone enzyme immunoassay (EIA). Participant cats, both “cases” (nine “sprayers” and eight “latriners”) and controls, were also individually video recorded (together with the owner) for 5 min in a dedicated room. FCM levels were significantly higher in individuals (“sprayers” and their controls) from spraying households than from the latrining households (“latriners” and their controls), but there was no significant difference between cats from the same household. Within a video observation test, cats from spraying houses spent proportionally more time moving (as opposed to stationary), but again there was no difference between cats from the same house. These results indicate that households in which a cat exhibits urine spraying, are generally more aroused, but “sprayers” are not more aroused than their housemates. Accordingly, we suggest appropriate management needs to be applied to the whole household to help alleviate the potential stress of all the cats in the home, and not just the one expressing this through urinary spraying behaviour. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fundamentals of Clinical Animal Behaviour)
Open AccessArticle
Psychological Correlates of Attitudes toward Pet Relinquishment and of Actual Pet Relinquishment: The Role of Pragmatism and Obligation
Animals 2020, 10(1), 63; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10010063 - 29 Dec 2019
Abstract
Understanding pet relinquishment is essential to inform interventions and assess their impact. In a cross-sectional study, we explored how attitudes of lack of obligation and pragmatism toward pet relinquishment correlated with, and differed according to, sociodemographic characteristics (age, gender, education, political orientation, religion, [...] Read more.
Understanding pet relinquishment is essential to inform interventions and assess their impact. In a cross-sectional study, we explored how attitudes of lack of obligation and pragmatism toward pet relinquishment correlated with, and differed according to, sociodemographic characteristics (age, gender, education, political orientation, religion, income, and household), previous animal experience, and owner perceptions of animals (perceiving pet as a burden, motives for pet relinquishment, regret having a pet, and general trust in pets). We adapted and developed three scales to measure attitudes toward pet relinquishment (ATPR), motives for pet relinquishment (MPR), and general trust in pets (GTP), revealing good psychometric qualities. Hierarchical linear regressions showed that attitudes of lack of obligation toward pet relinquishment were stronger in older people, those perceiving their pet as a burden, and those with lower general trust in pets. Attitudes of pragmatism toward pet relinquishment were stronger in men, those who were main pet caretakers, those perceiving their pet as a burden, those with higher motives for pet relinquishment, and those with lower general trust in pets. Furthermore, results showed that past pet relinquishment behavior was predicted by attitudes of pragmatism, but not attitudes of lack of obligation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fundamentals of Clinical Animal Behaviour)
Open AccessArticle
Computational Analysis of Movement Patterns of Dogs with ADHD-Like Behavior
Animals 2019, 9(12), 1140; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9121140 - 13 Dec 2019
Abstract
Computational approaches were called for to address the challenges of more objective behavior assessment which would be less reliant on owner reports. This study aims to use computational analysis for investigating a hypothesis that dogs with ADHD-like (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) behavior exhibit [...] Read more.
Computational approaches were called for to address the challenges of more objective behavior assessment which would be less reliant on owner reports. This study aims to use computational analysis for investigating a hypothesis that dogs with ADHD-like (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) behavior exhibit characteristic movement patterns directly observable during veterinary consultation. Behavioral consultations of 12 dogs medically treated due to ADHD-like behavior were recorded, as well as of a control group of 12 dogs with no reported behavioral problems. Computational analysis with a self-developed tool based on computer vision and machine learning was performed, analyzing 12 movement parameters that can be extracted from automatic dog tracking data. Significant differences in seven movement parameters were found, which led to the identification of three dimensions of movement patterns which may be instrumental for more objective assessment of ADHD-like behavior by clinicians, while being directly observable during consultation. These include (i) high speed, (ii) large coverage of space, and (iii) constant re-orientation in space. Computational tools used on video data collected during consultation have the potential to support quantifiable assessment of ADHD-like behavior informed by the identified dimensions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fundamentals of Clinical Animal Behaviour)
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Open AccessArticle
Improving the Recognition of Equine Affective States
Animals 2019, 9(12), 1124; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9121124 - 11 Dec 2019
Abstract
A key welfare problem for horses is that people commonly fail to recognise, and consequently neglect to resolve, equine behavioural signs of distress, worsening the welfare of the horse and potentially putting the safety of the handler at risk as a result. Members [...] Read more.
A key welfare problem for horses is that people commonly fail to recognise, and consequently neglect to resolve, equine behavioural signs of distress, worsening the welfare of the horse and potentially putting the safety of the handler at risk as a result. Members of equestrian Facebook groups were asked to view six videos and assess the horse’s behaviour in each; the authors selected the videos and considered each video to demonstrate behaviour associated with negative affective states. An additional six equine behaviourists also completed the survey as an “expert comparison group” from whom we could define “correct” answers; their responses were consistent with each other and the views of the authors. Although the majority of respondents successfully recognised behaviour indicative of distress in some instances, behaviour associated with negative affective states was commonly missed; videos featuring natural horsemanship and bridle-less riding were particularly interpreted incorrectly to be positive experiences for the horses. Binary logistic regression analysis (72.1% success rate) confirmed that the different video types (ridden dressage, natural horsemanship, in-hand dressage, bridle-less riding, Western reining and behavioural rehabilitation) were strong predictors for obtaining a correct answer (p < 0.01) but that experience of equine-ownership was not. Of the equestrian activities preferred by participants, only proponents of clicker training showed an increased likelihood of obtaining the correct answer (p = 0.05). Even when behavioural signs suggestive of negative affective states were recognised, a minority of respondents stated that they would be happy for their horse to be treated similarly. In conclusion, behavioural signs of equine distress are poorly recognised; they therefore warrant an increased prominence in education and the outreach activity of welfare organisations, in order to reduce equine suffering. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fundamentals of Clinical Animal Behaviour)
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Open AccessArticle
Veterinary Professionals’ Understanding of Common Feline Behavioural Problems and the Availability of “Cat Friendly” Practices in Ireland
Animals 2019, 9(12), 1112; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9121112 - 10 Dec 2019
Abstract
Veterinary behavioural medicine (VBM) is an integral aspect of veterinary practice. However, Golden and Hanlon (Ir. Vet. J. 71:12, 2018) found that the majority of professionals surveyed felt they had received inadequate VBM education and were commonly asked to give advice on feline [...] Read more.
Veterinary behavioural medicine (VBM) is an integral aspect of veterinary practice. However, Golden and Hanlon (Ir. Vet. J. 71:12, 2018) found that the majority of professionals surveyed felt they had received inadequate VBM education and were commonly asked to give advice on feline behavioural problems. The purpose of this study was to explore understanding of feline VBM and the availability of “cat friendly” provisions in clinical practice in Ireland. An online survey comprised 21 questions on professional role and experience, vignettes of common feline behavioural problems, and “cat friendly” practice management. Using a Likert Scale, participants were requested to score whether the advice depicted in vignettes supported best outcome based on the definition by Shalvey et al. (Ir. Vet. J. 72:1, 2019). The survey was distributed via professional organisations, social media, and at the University College Dublin Hospital Conference. Forty-two veterinary practitioners (VPs) and 53 veterinary nurses (VNs) completed the survey. The majority of veterinary professionals agreed with our classification of best outcome, but some areas of disagreement and uncertainty were identified. In addition, there were significant differences between VPs and VNs regarding spraying (p = 0.033), self-mutilation (p = 0.016), and resource-based aggression (p = 0.013). Relatively few “cat friendly” measures were implemented in respondents’ clinics. Our findings support the need for increased education in feline VBM, in particular, implementation of cat friendly practice initiatives. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fundamentals of Clinical Animal Behaviour)
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Open AccessArticle
Using Principles from Applied Behaviour Analysis to Address an Undesired Behaviour: Functional Analysis and Treatment of Jumping Up in Companion Dogs
Animals 2019, 9(12), 1091; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9121091 - 06 Dec 2019
Abstract
The aim of this study was to investigate the feasibility and effectiveness of procedures successfully used in human related applied behaviour analysis practices to the field of clinical animal behaviour. Experiment 1 involved functional analyses to identify the reinforcement contingencies maintaining jumping up [...] Read more.
The aim of this study was to investigate the feasibility and effectiveness of procedures successfully used in human related applied behaviour analysis practices to the field of clinical animal behaviour. Experiment 1 involved functional analyses to identify the reinforcement contingencies maintaining jumping up behaviour in five dogs. Experiment 2 comprised teaching dog owners a noncontingent reinforcement intervention (i.e., time-based reinforcement) via behavioural skills training. Single-case experimental methods were implemented in both experiments. The results of Experiment 1 showed that access to a tangible (dogs D01, D02, D03, and D04) and owner attention (dog D05) were reliably maintaining the jumping up behaviour. Experiment 2 demonstrated that noncontingent reinforcement effectively reduced jumping in three out of four dogs (Tau −0.59, CI 90% [−1–0.15], p = 0.026, Tau −1, CI 90% [−1–−0.55], p = 0.0003, and Tau −0.32, CI 90% [−0.76–0.11], p = 0.22 for dyads D01, D02, and D05, respectively), and that behavioural skills training was successful in teaching owners to perform a dog training intervention with high fidelity. Although the results are promising, more canine-related research into functional analysis and noncontingent reinforcement, as well as implementation of behavioural skills training with animal caregivers, is needed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fundamentals of Clinical Animal Behaviour)
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Open AccessArticle
Impact of Socio-Economic Status on Accessibility of Dog Training Classes
Animals 2019, 9(10), 849; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9100849 - 22 Oct 2019
Abstract
Behaviour problems are amongst the most common reasons given for relinquishing dogs to rehoming centres. Some behaviour problems may be amenable to being tackled pre-emptively with classes educating owners on basic dog training and understanding behaviour; however, it is recognised that people with [...] Read more.
Behaviour problems are amongst the most common reasons given for relinquishing dogs to rehoming centres. Some behaviour problems may be amenable to being tackled pre-emptively with classes educating owners on basic dog training and understanding behaviour; however, it is recognised that people with low socio-economic status (SES) may face barriers to attending classes such as affordability, variable working hours, and limited access to transport and childcare. The current study piloted free-to-use dog training and owner education classes in areas with high levels of economic deprivation, both in the traditional face-to-face format and online. It was hypothesised that providing an online dog training course may help people overcome practical barriers by allowing them to complete training modules in their own time. High dropout rates were observed in both formats (online: 100%, face-to-face: 43% dropout). A course of paid dog training classes running in the same area saw a comparatively low dropout rate (24%). Participants who completed the face-to-face classes had significantly higher household incomes and were less likely to receive means-tested benefits than participants who dropped out (household income p = 0.049; benefits status p = 0.017). This evidence suggests that people with low SES may face non-course fee-related barriers to attending dog training classes. Future research should include a qualitative investigation of people’s reasons for not continuing with dog training courses. Study findings can support the development of training and behaviour advice delivery that is accessible to people with varied socio-economic backgrounds. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fundamentals of Clinical Animal Behaviour)
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Open AccessArticle
Behavioural Differences in Dogs with Atopic Dermatitis Suggest Stress Could Be a Significant Problem Associated with Chronic Pruritus
Animals 2019, 9(10), 813; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9100813 - 16 Oct 2019
Abstract
Canine atopic dermatitis (cAD) is a common allergic skin condition in dogs that causes chronic pruritus. The overall quality of life in dogs with cAD is known to be reduced, and human patients with pruritic conditions report significant psychological burdens from pruritus-induced stress, [...] Read more.
Canine atopic dermatitis (cAD) is a common allergic skin condition in dogs that causes chronic pruritus. The overall quality of life in dogs with cAD is known to be reduced, and human patients with pruritic conditions report significant psychological burdens from pruritus-induced stress, and atopic dermatitis is associated with significant psychopathological morbidities. We tested the hypothesis that dogs with cAD would display more problem behaviours that could be indicative of stress than would healthy controls. Behavioural data were gathered directly from owners using a validated dog behaviour questionnaire for 343 dogs with a diagnosis of cAD and 552 healthy controls, and scores were also provided for their dog’s pruritus severity. Regression modelling, controlling for potential confounding variables (age, sex, breed, neuter status or other health problem(s)) showed for the first time that pruritus severity in dogs with cAD was associated with increased frequency of behaviours often considered problematic, such as mounting, chewing, hyperactivity, coprophagia, begging for and stealing food, attention-seeking, excitability, excessive grooming, and reduced trainability. Whilst causality cannot be ascertained from this study, the behaviours that were associated with pruritus severity are redirected, self/environment-directed displacement behaviours, which are often considered indicative of stress. Further investigation is warranted, and stress reduction could be helpful when treating dogs with cAD. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fundamentals of Clinical Animal Behaviour)
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Open AccessArticle
Effect of a Standardized Four-Week Desensitization and Counter-Conditioning Training Program on Pre-Existing Veterinary Fear in Companion Dogs
Animals 2019, 9(10), 767; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9100767 - 07 Oct 2019
Abstract
Many dogs show signs of fear during veterinary appointments. It is widely recommended to use desensitization and counter-conditioning training to reduce this fear. However, the efficacy of this method for reducing veterinary fear has not been examined. We assessed the effect of a [...] Read more.
Many dogs show signs of fear during veterinary appointments. It is widely recommended to use desensitization and counter-conditioning training to reduce this fear. However, the efficacy of this method for reducing veterinary fear has not been examined. We assessed the effect of a standardized four-week training program on behavioural and physiological signs of fear in dogs with pre-existing veterinary fear. Owned dogs were randomly allocated to receive training (n = 15) or no training (n = 22; Control). Owners of dogs in the training group were instructed to perform exam-style handling on their dog and to visit the veterinary clinic weekly. Owners of control dogs were given no instructions. Fear responses were assessed before and after the training period by a blinded observer during clinic arrival and examination. Despite motivated owners volunteering to participate in the current study, 44% of owners were non-compliant to this training program. During examination, control dogs had higher odds (95% confidence Interval (CI)) of reduced posture compared to trained dogs (Odds ratio (OR): 3.79, CI: 1.03–16.3). Fear scores for trained dogs lowered during the second examination (p = 0.046), and 86.7% of dog owners reported a reduction in their dog’s fear levels across the training period (p = 0.007). When entering the clinic (p = 0.002) and during examination (p = 0.002), trained female dogs had a higher rate of lip licking than control females. The training program did not influence temperature, heart rate, respiratory rate, avoidance, trembling, vocalizations, or willingness and encouragement to step on the scale. Results suggest that this four-week training program was mildly effective at reducing veterinary fear in dogs. Further research is necessary to explore the efficacy of longer, more intensive, and individualized training programs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fundamentals of Clinical Animal Behaviour)
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Review

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Open AccessFeature PaperReview
A Review of Medical Conditions and Behavioral Problems in Dogs and Cats
Animals 2019, 9(12), 1133; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9121133 - 12 Dec 2019
Abstract
Not all animals behave identically when faced with the same situation. These individual differences in the expression of their behavior could be due to many factors, including medical conditions. These medical problems can change behavior directly or indirectly. The aims of this review [...] Read more.
Not all animals behave identically when faced with the same situation. These individual differences in the expression of their behavior could be due to many factors, including medical conditions. These medical problems can change behavior directly or indirectly. The aims of this review are to describe the state of the art of the relationship among some medical and behavioral problems, and to propose new lines of investigation. The revision is focused on the relation between behavioral problems and pain, endocrine diseases, neurological problems, vomeronasal organ alterations, and cardiac disorders. These problems represent a diagnostic challenge from a practical point of view. The most common sign of pain in animals is a change in behavior. Although the relation of pain to behavioral problems has been widely studied, it is not absolutely clear. As an example, the relation between sleep disorders and pain is poorly known in veterinary medicine. New studies in humans and laboratory animals show that a reciprocal relationship does, in fact, exist. More specifically, the literature suggests that the temporal effect of sleep deprivation on pain may be stronger than that of pain on sleep. Some behavioral problems could modify the sleep–awake cycle (e.g., cognitive dysfunction). The impact of these behavioral problems on pain perception is completely unknown in dogs and cats. Thyroid hormones play an important role, regarding behavioral control. Both hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism have been related to behavioral changes. Concerning hypothyroidism, this relationship remains controversial. Nonetheless, new neuro-imaging studies provide objective evidence that brain structure and function are altered in hypothyroid patients, both in laboratory animals and in humans. There are many neurological problems that could potentially change behavior. This paper reviews those neurological problems that could lead to behavioral changes without modifying neurological examination. The most common problems are tumors that affect central nervous system silent zones, mild traumatic brain injury, ischemic attacks, and epilepsy. Most of these diseases and their relationship to behavior are poorly studied in dogs and cats. To better understand the pathophysiology of all of these problems, and their relation to behavioral problems, may change the diagnostic protocol of behavioral problems. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fundamentals of Clinical Animal Behaviour)
Open AccessReview
Desexing Dogs: A Review of the Current Literature
Animals 2019, 9(12), 1086; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9121086 - 05 Dec 2019
Abstract
Background: Desexing dogs is promoted for population control, preventative healthcare, and behavior modification. Common methods are orchiectomy and ovariectomy/ovariohysterectomy. GnRH superagonist implants are available in some areas. Alternative methods like vasectomy and salpingectomy/hysterectomy are uncommon. The terminology used to describe desexing is [...] Read more.
Background: Desexing dogs is promoted for population control, preventative healthcare, and behavior modification. Common methods are orchiectomy and ovariectomy/ovariohysterectomy. GnRH superagonist implants are available in some areas. Alternative methods like vasectomy and salpingectomy/hysterectomy are uncommon. The terminology used to describe desexing is inconsistent and contradictory, showing a need for the adaption of standardized terminology. Population Control: Surprisingly, empirical studies show no effects of desexing on population control in companion and shelter dogs despite desexing being consistently recommended in the literature. There is evidence for a population control effect in free-roaming dogs, where desexing also has benefits on zoonotic disease and bite risk. Population control in free-roaming dogs is mostly correlated with female, not male desexing. Health and Lifespan: Desexing affects numerous disease risks, but studies commonly neglect age at diagnosis and overall lifespan, age being by far the most important risk factor for most diseases. We argue that lifespan is a more important outcome than ultimate cause of death. A beneficial effect of desexing on lifespan is consistently demonstrated in females, while evidence for a beneficial effect in males is inconsistent. Studies are likely biased in desexing being a proxy for better care and desexed dogs having already lived to the age of desexing. Desexing reduces or eliminates common life-limiting diseases of the female reproductive system such as pyometra and mammary tumors, while no analogous effect exists in males. Disease risks increases across sexes and breeds include cruciate ligament rupture, various cancers, and obesity. Urinary incontinence risk is increased in females only. Various other disease risk changes show considerable variability between breeds and sexes. Behavioral Effects: Desexed males show reduced libido, roaming, conspecific mounting, and urinary marking frequency, as well as reduced male dog-directed aggression in a majority of males desexed for behavioral reasons. There is a detrimental effect on the risk and progression of age-related cognitive dysfunction. Desexed dogs may be less likely to cause bite injuries across sexes. The evidence for other effects such as human-directed aggression, human or object mounting, resource guarding, or shyness and anxiety is inconsistent and contradictory. There are few studies specific to females or individual breeds. Conclusions: The evidence for a beneficial effect of desexing is stronger in female than in male dogs; however, there is significant variation between breeds and sexes, and more research is needed to further elucidate these differences and to arrive at individualized evidence-based recommendations for clinical practice. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fundamentals of Clinical Animal Behaviour)

Other

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Open AccessCase Report
A Treatment Plan for Dogs (Canis familiaris) That Show Impaired Social Functioning towards Their Owners
Animals 2020, 10(1), 161; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10010161 - 17 Jan 2020
Abstract
Many domestic dogs are uncomfortable when humans perform trivial and benign actions that the animals perceive as threatening. A common technique for addressing canine emotional discomfort involves desensitization, where the intensity of a problematic stimulus is gradually increased while the dog remains relaxed. [...] Read more.
Many domestic dogs are uncomfortable when humans perform trivial and benign actions that the animals perceive as threatening. A common technique for addressing canine emotional discomfort involves desensitization, where the intensity of a problematic stimulus is gradually increased while the dog remains relaxed. Desensitization requires a skillful owner and is complicated when actions of the owner are the stimuli to be desensitised. This paper introduces a behaviour modification programme for dogs with impaired social functioning in relation to the (inter)actions by their owners, consisting of (1) increasing owner knowledge and awareness regarding dog body language and perception of owner actions, (2) management of the daily life of the dog through general stress reduction and avoidance of stressful situations, and (3) behaviour modification through training. The latter component entails a non-threatening, predictable exercise in which the dog has control over any perceived threats, the introduction of the safety cue with subsequent desensitization, and engaging activities with the owner that the dog finds enjoyable. We also present a case series report to examine a selection of dogs with impaired social functioning, from signalment to outcome, when treated with the proposed behaviour modification and examine which adaptations were made to the plan according to individual dogs. Finally, we avenues for future research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fundamentals of Clinical Animal Behaviour)
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