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  • 1.
    Foyer, Pemilla
    et al.
    Swedish Defence University, Department of Military Studies, Military-Technology Division.
    Wilsson, Erik
    Wright, Dominic
    Jensen, Per
    Early experiences modulate stress coping in a population of German shepherd dogs2013In: Applied Animal Behaviour Science, ISSN 0168-1591, E-ISSN 1872-9045, Vol. 146, no 1-4, p. 79-87Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Early experiences may alter later behavioural expressions in animals and these differences can be consistent through adulthood. In dogs, this may have a profound impact on welfare and working ability and, it is therefore interesting to evaluate how experiences during the first weeks of life contribute to shaping the long-term behaviour. We analysed data from 503 dogs from 105 litters, bred at the Swedish Armed Forces Dog Kennel. For each dog, the data comprised information on dam and sire, sex, litter size, sex ratio of litter, date of birth, and weight at birth, and at 10 days of age. Between the ages of 377 and 593 days, the dogs were tested in a temperament test, assessing their suitability as working dogs. The behaviour test comprised 12 different sub-tests, and was scored on a behavioural rating scale. A principal component analysis showed that the test performance could largely be attributed to four principal components (explaining 55.7% of variation), labelled Confidence, Physical Engagement, Social Engagement and Aggression. We analysed the effects of the different early life variables and sex on the principal component scores (PC scores) using linear modelling. PC scores on Confidence were affected by parity, sex and litter size, and Physical Engagement was affected by parity, growth rate, litter size and season of birth. Social Engagement was affected by growth rate and sex, and Aggression was affected by sex. Some of these effects disappeared when they were combined into a single linear model, but most of them remained significant also when controlling for collinearity. The results suggest that the early environment of dogs have long-lasting effects on their behaviour and coping styles in a stressful test situation and this knowledge can be used in the work with breeding of future military or police working dogs.

  • 2.
    Foyer, Pernilla
    et al.
    Swedish Defence University, Department of Military Studies, Military-Technology Division. Linköpings universitet, Biologi.
    Svedberg, Anna-Maria
    Linköpings universitet, Biologi.
    Nilsson, Emma
    Linköpings universitet, Biologi.
    Wilsson, Erik
    Swedish Armed Forces Dog Training Unit, Märsta, Sweden.
    Olsen Faresjö, Åshild
    Linköpings universitet, Avdelningen för samhällsmedicin.
    Jensen, Per
    Linköpings universitet, Biologi.
    Behavior and cortisol responses of dogs evaluated in a standardized temperament test for military working dogs2016In: Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, ISSN 1558-7878, E-ISSN 1878-7517, Vol. 11, p. 7-12Article in journal (Refereed)
    Abstract [en]

    Military and police working dogs are often exposed to stressful or threatening events, and an improper response, e.g., fear, may implicate both reduced working efficiency and welfare. Therefore, identifying individuals that display a favorable response to potentially threatening situations is of great interest. In the present study, we investigated behavior responses of 85 prospective military working dogs in 4 subtests in a standardized temperament test used to select working dogs for the Swedish Armed Forces. Our goal was to evaluate behavioral responses in specific subtests and cortisol responses of candidate dogs. After dogs were rated as approved or nonapproved based on the test leader’s assessment of the full test result, we independently analyzed video recordings of 4 subtests. In addition, for 37 dogs, we analyzed pretest and posttest salivary cortisol levels. Dogs which were approved by the test leader for further training scored higher in the video recordings on emotionality and, in particular, fear-related behavior during a subset of the test and had higher levels of cortisol both before and after the test, than nonapproved dogs. Although this may actually reflect the desired traits, it could also indicate a bias in the selection procedure, which may pose limitations on the attempts to recruit the most suitable working dogs.

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