Publications by authors named "Clive D L Wynne"

49 Publications

A rapid serial reversal learning assessment for age-related cognitive deficits in pet dogs.

Behav Processes 2021 May 12;186:104375. Epub 2021 Mar 12.

Department of Psychology, Arizona State University, PO Box 871104, Tempe, AZ 85287-1104, United States.

Assessments for behavioral inhibition in pet dogs that can rapidly detect age-related cognitive deficits (ARCD) using inexpensive and accessible materials may aid in diagnosing canine dementia and may facilitate translational research on Alzheimer's disease in humans. In this study, we designed and deployed a spatial serial reversal learning test in which 80 pet dogs were required to learn which of two identical boxes contained a hidden food treat. Each time the dog chose the correct box in three consecutive trials the procedure was repeated using the other box. All dogs that completed shaping (n = 62) also completed the 30-minute assessment. Middle-aged dogs chose the correct box more often than younger and older dogs. This cognitive decline was detectable with a stand-alone score for perseveration that can be easily measured and interpreted by clinicians and dog owners. Age did not predict how frequently the dog learned the serially-reversing reward contingency but older and younger dogs displayed longer streaks of perseverative errors. Thus, ARCD in dogs may be better characterized by bouts of severe cognitive dysfunction rather than temporally-consistent cognitive deficits. We suggest that future ARCD assessments for pet dogs should include measurements for intra-individual variability.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.beproc.2021.104375DOI Listing
May 2021

Investigating the Impact of Brief Outings on the Welfare of Dogs Living in US Shelters.

Animals (Basel) 2021 Feb 19;11(2). Epub 2021 Feb 19.

Department of Psychology, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85281, USA.

Social isolation likely contributes to reduced welfare for shelter-living dogs. Several studies have established that time out of the kennel with a person can improve dogs' behavior and reduce physiological measures of stress. This study assessed the effects of two-and-a-half-hour outings on the urinary cortisol levels and activity of dogs as they awaited adoption at four animal shelters. Dogs' urine was collected before and after outings for cortisol:creatinine analysis, and accelerometer devices were used to measure dogs' physical activity. In total, 164 dogs participated in this study, with 793 cortisol values and 3750 activity measures used in the statistical analyses. We found that dogs' cortisol:creatinine ratios were significantly higher during the afternoon of the intervention but returned to pre-field trip levels the following day. Dogs' minutes of low activity were significantly reduced, and high activity significantly increased during the outing. Although dogs' cortisol and activity returned to baseline after the intervention, our findings suggest that short-term outings do not confer the same stress reduction benefits as previously shown with temporary fostering. Nevertheless, it is possible that these types of outing programs are beneficial to adoptions by increasing the visibility of dogs and should be further investigated to elucidate these effects.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ani11020548DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7923296PMC
February 2021

The click is not the trick: the efficacy of clickers and other reinforcement methods in training naïve dogs to perform new tasks.

PeerJ 2021 22;9:e10881. Epub 2021 Feb 22.

Department of Psychology, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA.

Background: A handheld metal noisemaker known as a "clicker" is widely used to train new behaviors in dogs; however, evidence for their superior efficacy compared to providing solely primary reinforcement or other secondary reinforcers in the acquisition of novel behavior in dogs is largely anecdotal.

Methods: Three experiments were conducted to determine under what circumstances a clicker secondary reinforcer may result in acquisition of a novel behavior more rapidly or to a higher level compared to other readily available reinforcement methods. In Experiment 1, three groups of 30 dogs each were shaped to emit a novel sit and stay behavior of increasing duration with either the delivery of food alone, a verbal stimulus paired with food, or a clicker with food. The group that received only a primary reinforcer reached a significantly higher criterion of training success than the group trained with a verbal secondary reinforcer. Performance of the group experiencing a clicker as a secondary reinforcer was intermediate between the other two groups, but not significantly different from either. In Experiment 2, three groups of 25 dogs each were shaped to emit a nose targeting behavior and then perform that behavior at increasing distances from the experimenter using the same three methods of positive reinforcement as in Experiment 1. No statistically significant differences between the groups were found. In Experiment 3, three groups of 30 dogs each were shaped to emit a nose-targeting behavior upon an array of wooden blocks with task difficulty increasing throughout testing using the same three methods of positive reinforcement as previously tested. No statistically significant differences between the groups were found.

Results: Overall, the findings suggest that both primary reinforcement alone as well as a verbal or clicker secondary reinforcer can be used successfully in training a dog to perform a novel behavior, but that no positive reinforcement method demonstrated significantly greater efficacy than any other.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.7717/peerj.10881DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7906040PMC
February 2021

Owner attention facilitates social play in dog-dog dyads (Canis lupus familiaris): evidence for an interspecific audience effect.

Anim Cogn 2021 Mar 1;24(2):341-352. Epub 2021 Feb 1.

Department of Psychology, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA.

Domestic dogs are a highly playful species that are evidently sensitive to the attentional state of conspecifics as well as humans. Given that an animal's social environment can influence play, audience effects may catalyze social play. While prior research has shown that intraspecific attention maintains social play in dog-dog dyads, it is unknown whether interspecific (specifically, human) attention maintains social play between dogs. Our objective in the present study was to examine whether a relationship exists between the availability of human attention and social play in domestic dogs. Familiar dog-dog dyads were exposed to three sessions each consisting of three experimental conditions that differed in the degree of availability of owner attention. Observed levels of social play were significantly higher during conditions in which an attentive owner was present than during conditions in which an owner was either inattentive or absent. Furthermore, this effect was maintained across repeated sessions. This is the first experimental evidence of an interspecific audience effect facilitating social play in domestic dogs. The availability of caretaker attention may be a proximate explanation for social play in canids that have ontogenetically rich histories with humans and also retain neotonized behavior as adults. Further research is needed to clarify the mechanisms contributing to the relationship between interspecific attention and social play in these populations and establish a more comprehensive understanding of play behavior in animals.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10071-021-01481-9DOI Listing
March 2021

Adaptive spatial working memory assessments for aging pet dogs.

Anim Cogn 2020 Nov 13. Epub 2020 Nov 13.

Department of Psychology, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA.

Assessments for spatial working memory (SWM) in pet dogs that can detect age-related cognitive deficits in a single session may aid in diagnosing canine dementia and may facilitate translational research on Alzheimer's disease in humans. Adaptive testing procedures are widely used in single-session assessments for humans with diverse cognitive abilities. In this study, we designed and deployed two up-down staircase assessments for SWM in which 26 pet dogs were required to recall the location of a treat hidden behind one of two identical boxes following delays of variable length. In the first experiment, performance tended to decline with age but few dogs completed the test (n = 10). However, all of the dogs that participated in the second experiment (n = 24) completed the assessment and provided reliable evidence of learning and retaining the task. Delay length and age significantly predicted performance supporting the validity of this assessment. The relationships between age and performance were described by inverted U-shaped functions as both old and young dogs displayed deficits in weighted cumulative-scores and trial-by-trial performance. Thus, SWM in pet dogs may develop until midlife and decline thereafter. Exploratory analyses of non-mnemonic fixation strategies, sustained engagement, inhibitory control, and potential improvements for future SWM assessments which adopt this paradigm are also discussed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10071-020-01447-3DOI Listing
November 2020

Can a dog be spontaneous?

Authors:
Clive D L Wynne

Learn Behav 2020 12;48(4):397-398

Department of Psychology, Arizona State University, PO Box 871104, Tempe, AZ, 85281, USA.

Fugazza and Miklósi (Scientific Reports, 10(1), 3082, 2020) reported "spontaneous" categorization in a dog. I explore what it means to claim that forms of animal cognition are spontaneous.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3758/s13420-020-00430-9DOI Listing
December 2020

Pet dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) release their trapped and distressed owners: Individual variation and evidence of emotional contagion.

PLoS One 2020 16;15(4):e0231742. Epub 2020 Apr 16.

Department of Psychology, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, United States of America.

Domestic dogs have assisted humans for millennia. However, the extent to which these helpful behaviors are prosocially motivated remains unclear. To assess the propensity of pet dogs to actively rescue distressed humans without explicit training, this study tested whether sixty pet dogs would release their seemingly trapped owners from a large box. To examine the causal mechanisms that shaped this behavior, the readiness of each dog to open the box was tested in three conditions: 1) the owner sat in the box and called for help (distress test), 2) an experimenter placed high-value food rewards in the box (food test), and 3) the owner sat in the box and calmly read aloud (reading test). Dogs were as likely to release their distressed owner as to retrieve treats from inside the box, indicating that rescuing an owner may be a highly rewarding action for dogs. After accounting for opening ability, dogs released the owner more often when the owner called for help than when the owner read aloud calmly. In addition, opening latencies decreased with test number in the distress test but not the reading test. Thus, rescuing the owner could not be attributed solely to social facilitation, stimulus enhancement, or social contact-seeking behavior. Dogs displayed more stress behaviors in the distress test than in the reading test, and stress scores decreased with test number in the reading test but not in the distress test. This evidence of emotional contagion supports the hypothesis that rescuing the distressed owner was an empathetically-motivated prosocial behavior. Success in the food task and previous (in-home) experience opening objects were both strong predictors of releasing the owner. Thus, prosocial behavior tests for dogs should control for physical ability and previous experience.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0231742PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7162277PMC
August 2020

Humanity's Best Friend: A Dog-Centric Approach to Addressing Global Challenges.

Animals (Basel) 2020 Mar 17;10(3). Epub 2020 Mar 17.

Palaeogenomics & Bio-Archaeology Research Network, School of Archaeology, 1 South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3TG, UK.

No other animal has a closer mutualistic relationship with humans than the dog (). Domesticated from the Eurasian grey wolf (), dogs have evolved alongside humans over millennia in a relationship that has transformed dogs and the environments in which humans and dogs have co-inhabited. The story of the dog is the story of recent humanity, in all its biological and cultural complexity. By exploring human-dog-environment interactions throughout time and space, it is possible not only to understand vital elements of global history, but also to critically assess our present-day relationship with the natural world, and to begin to mitigate future global challenges. In this paper, co-authored by researchers from across the natural and social sciences, arts and humanities, we argue that a dog-centric approach provides a new model for future academic enquiry and engagement with both the public and the global environmental agenda.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ani10030502DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7142965PMC
March 2020

Evaluating the effects of a temporary fostering program on shelter dog welfare.

PeerJ 2019 27;7:e6620. Epub 2019 Mar 27.

Department of Psychology, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, United States of America.

One of the greatest stressors for dogs living in animal shelters is social isolation. Many studies have demonstrated that human interaction reduces cortisol in shelter dogs, with the possibility that longer periods of interaction may yield greater effects. These types of interventions are contingent upon removing the dog from the kennel and any such reductions in cortisol are often lost when the dog returns to the kennel. More recently, animal shelters are utilizing short-term fostering programs to provide relief from the perceived stresses of kennel life; however the effects of these programs are not well understood. This study assessed the impacts of one- and two-night fostering programs on the urinary cortisol levels, resting pulse rates, longest bout of uninterrupted rest, and proportion of time spent resting of dogs awaiting adoption. Five animal shelters, open and limited-admission facilities, from across the United States participated in the study. During the study, dogs' urine was collected in the morning before, during, and after fostering stays for cortisol: creatinine analysis. Non-invasive health monitors were worn by the dogs, which collected heart rates and activity levels, in the shelter and in foster homes. In total, 207 dogs participated in the study, and 1,076 cortisol values were used in our analysis. Across all shelters, we found that dogs' cortisol: creatinine ratios dropped significantly during their fostering stay, but returned to baseline levels after return to the shelter. However, the observed reduction in cortisol varied in magnitude across shelters. We found that dogs of greater weight, age, and average resting pulse rate had higher cortisol levels; and dogs with longer bouts of uninterrupted rest had lower cortisol levels. Dogs had their longest bouts of rest during sleepovers, followed by in the shelter after their sleepovers. Lastly, significant differences were found when comparing in-shelter cortisol values at our five shelters, differences that were in some cases greater than the impact of the fostering intervention itself. Considering the diversity of facilities that participated in this study, it is possible that as yet unstudied, shelter-specific, environmental factors could be contributing to the overall welfare of shelter dogs. Thus while a reprieve from the shelter is impactful for dogs awaiting adoption, mitigating the stressors present in kenneling conditions should also be addressed to improve the lives of shelter dogs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.7717/peerj.6620DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6441318PMC
March 2019

Odor mixture training enhances dogs' olfactory detection of Home-Made Explosive precursors.

Heliyon 2018 Dec 8;4(12):e00947. Epub 2018 Dec 8.

Arizona State University, USA.

Complex odor mixtures have traditionally been thought to be perceived configurally, implying that there is little identification of the individual components in the mixture. Prior research has suggested that the chemical and or perceptual similarity of components in a mixture may influence whether they can be detected individually; however, how experience and training influence the ability to identify individual components in complex mixtures (a figure-background segregation) is less clear. Figure-background segregation is a critical task for dogs tasked with discriminating between Home Made Explosives and very similar, but innocuous, complex odor mixtures. In a cross-over experimental design, we evaluated the effect of two training procedures on dogs' ability to identify the presence of a critical oxidizer in complex odor mixtures. In the Mixture training procedure, dogs received odor mixtures that varied from trial to trial with and without an oxidizer. In the more typical procedure for canine detection training, dogs were presented with the pure oxidizer only, and had to discriminate this from decoy mixtures (target-only training). Mixture training led to above chance discrimination of the oxidizer from variable backgrounds and dogs were able to readily generalize performance, with no decrement, to mixtures containing novel odorants. Target-only training, however, led to a precipitous drop in hit rate when the oxidizer was presented in a mixture background containing either familiar and/or novel odorants. Furthermore, by giving Target-only trained dogs Mixture training, they learned to identify the oxidizer in mixtures. Together, these results demonstrate that training method has significant impacts on the perception of components in odor mixtures and highlights the importance of olfactory learning for the effective detection of Home Made Explosives by dogs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.heliyon.2018.e00947DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6299160PMC
December 2018

A canine identity crisis: Genetic breed heritage testing of shelter dogs.

PLoS One 2018 23;13(8):e0202633. Epub 2018 Aug 23.

Department of Psychology, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, United States of America.

Previous research in animal shelters has determined the breeds of dogs living in shelters by their visual appearance; however the genetic breed testing of such dogs is seldom conducted, and few studies have compared the breed labels assigned by shelter staff to the results of this testing. In the largest sampling of shelter dogs' breed identities to-date, 459 dogs at Arizona Animal Welfare League & SPCA (AAWL) in Phoenix, Arizona, and 460 dogs at San Diego Humane Society & SPCA (SDHS) in San Diego, California, were genetically tested using a commercially available product to determine their breed heritage. In our sample, genetic analyses identified 125 distinct breeds with 91 breeds present at both shelters, and 4.9% of the dogs identified as purebreds. The three most common breed signatures, in order of prevalence, American Staffordshire Terrier, Chihuahua, and Poodle, accounted for 42.5% or all breed identifications at the great grandparent level. During their stay at the shelter, dogs with pit bull-type ancestries waited longer to be adopted than other dogs. When we compared shelter breed assignment as determined by visual appearance to that of genetic testing, staff at SDHS was able to successfully match at least one breed in the genetic heritage of 67.7% of dogs tested; however their agreement fell to 10.4% when asked to identify more than one breed. Lastly, we found that as the number of pit bull-type relatives in a dog's heritage increased, so did the shelter's ability to match the results of DNA analysis. In total when we consider the complexity of shelter dog breed heritage and the failure to identify multiple breeds based on visual identification coupled with our inability to predict how these breeds then interact within an individual dog, we believe that focusing resources on communicating the physical and behavioral characteristics of shelter dogs would best support adoption efforts.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0202633PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6107223PMC
February 2019

The effects of exercise and calm interactions on in-kennel behavior of shelter dogs.

Behav Processes 2018 Jan 20;146:54-60. Epub 2017 Nov 20.

Department of Psychology, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA.

Over-activity, or excessive locomotion and barking in the kennel, may be unattractive to adopters and an indicator of poor welfare of kenneled dogs. The study assessed the efficacy of two common enrichment strategies, providing calm interaction and additional exercise, on in-kennel behavior in 16 shelter dogs. Both interventions resulted in appropriate behavior just prior to the sessions (t=2.10, df=7, p=0.03 and F [2216]=7.58, p=0.0007, respectively), but both also resulted in an increase of some undesirable behaviors immediately after the dogs were taken back to their kennels (F [3216]=7.77, p=0.0001 and F (5216)=10.1, p<0.0001 respectively). Right after receiving additional exercise, the dogs spent more time in back and forth motion in the kennel. Right after receiving the calm interaction, the dogs spent less time in the front of the kennel, less time facing forward, and more time engaging in back and forth motion. However, dogs also spent less time barking and jumping on the kennel door right after the calm interaction. The results suggest that both interventions may be useful, but shelter administrators and volunteers must take all of the behavioral changes into account when administering these interventions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.beproc.2017.11.013DOI Listing
January 2018

Quantity discrimination in canids: Dogs (Canis familiaris) and wolves (Canis lupus) compared.

Behav Processes 2017 Nov 9;144:89-92. Epub 2017 Sep 9.

Arizona State University, Department of Psychology, Tempe, AZ, USA.

Accumulating evidence indicates that animals are able to discriminate between quantities. Recent studies have shown that dogs' and coyotes' ability to discriminate between quantities of food items decreases with increasing numerical ratio. Conversely, wolves' performance is not affected by numerical ratio. Cross-species comparisons are difficult because of differences in the methodologies employed, and hence it is still unclear whether domestication altered quantitative abilities in canids. Here we used the same procedure to compare pet dogs and wolves in a spontaneous food choice task. Subjects were presented with two quantities of food items and allowed to choose only one option. Four numerical contrasts of increasing difficulty (range 1-4) were used to assess the influence of numerical ratio on the performance of the two species. Dogs' accuracy was affected by numerical ratio, while no ratio effect was observed in wolves. These results align with previous findings and reinforce the idea of different quantitative competences in dogs and wolves. Although we cannot exclude that other variables might have played a role in shaping quantitative abilities in these two species, our results might suggest that the interspecific differences here reported may have arisen as a result of domestication.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.beproc.2017.09.003DOI Listing
November 2017

Dogs don't always prefer their owners and can quickly form strong preferences for certain strangers over others.

J Exp Anal Behav 2017 11 4;108(3):305-317. Epub 2017 Sep 4.

Arizona State University, Tempe.

The unique relationship between dog and owner has been demonstrated in several experimental procedures, including tests in which dogs are left alone or with a stranger, tests of dogs' appeasement or social approach when petted by their owner or a stranger, and their ability to learn when taught by their owner or a stranger. In all cases, dogs responded differently to their owner, which has been referred to as a specific attachment, and likely a product of a prolonged history of reinforcement. In the current study, we used a concurrent choice paradigm in which dogs could interact with two people, both of whom provided the same petting interaction, to test whether owned dogs would prefer their owner over a stranger and whether the familiarity of the testing context would influence preference. We also investigated whether shelter and owned dogs tested with two strangers would show a preference between strangers and whether that preference would be similar in magnitude to any preference between the owner and stranger. Owned dogs preferred to interact with their owners when in an unfamiliar context, but allocated more time to the stranger in a familiar context. Both shelter and owned dogs tested with two strangers showed a magnitude of preference for one stranger over the other similar to owned dogs' preference for owners in an unfamiliar context. These results parallel what has been found in strange situation tests with owned dogs tested with their owners, but the strength of preference shown for one of two strangers indicates dogs can form a preference for one person quickly.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jeab.280DOI Listing
November 2017

Structural variants in genes associated with human Williams-Beuren syndrome underlie stereotypical hypersociability in domestic dogs.

Sci Adv 2017 07 19;3(7):e1700398. Epub 2017 Jul 19.

Department of Animal and Rangeland Sciences, Oregon State University, OR 97331, USA.

Although considerable progress has been made in understanding the genetic basis of morphologic traits (for example, body size and coat color) in dogs and wolves, the genetic basis of their behavioral divergence is poorly understood. An integrative approach using both behavioral and genetic data is required to understand the molecular underpinnings of the various behavioral characteristics associated with domestication. We analyze a 5-Mb genomic region on chromosome 6 previously found to be under positive selection in domestic dog breeds. Deletion of this region in humans is linked to Williams-Beuren syndrome (WBS), a multisystem congenital disorder characterized by hypersocial behavior. We associate quantitative data on behavioral phenotypes symptomatic of WBS in humans with structural changes in the WBS locus in dogs. We find that hypersociability, a central feature of WBS, is also a core element of domestication that distinguishes dogs from wolves. We provide evidence that structural variants in and , genes previously implicated in the behavioral phenotype of patients with WBS and contained within the WBS locus, contribute to extreme sociability in dogs. This finding suggests that there are commonalities in the genetic architecture of WBS and canine tameness and that directional selection may have targeted a unique set of linked behavioral genes of large phenotypic effect, allowing for rapid behavioral divergence of dogs and wolves, facilitating coexistence with humans.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.1700398DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5517105PMC
July 2017

The influence of breed and environmental factors on social and solitary play in dogs (Canis lupus familiaris).

Learn Behav 2017 12;45(4):367-377

Department of Psychology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA.

The domestic dog is an ideal model species in which to study the genetic and environmental factors that influence play behavior. Dogs exist in a wide variety of breeds and frequently engage in multiple forms of play. In the present study, we investigated whether the levels of solitary and social play differed between dogs of three breed types with distinct predatory motor pattern sequences (herding dogs, retrievers, and livestock guarding dogs [LGDs]). Furthermore, we investigated how environmental factors (social and nonsocial contexts) influenced play in dogs of these breed types. Groups of breed-matched dyads with working experience and of equivalent age, sex, and neuter status ratios were exposed to four experimental test conditions and two control conditions in randomized orders. With respect to solitary play, environmental context did have a significant effect, with toys reliably producing the highest levels of solitary play across all breed types. Retrievers engaged in significantly higher levels of solitary play overall than LGDs, and there was a trend in comparison to herding dogs. In contrast, neither environmental context nor breed had a significant effect on social play levels; however, neuter status of the dyads did have a significant effect on social play, with mixed-status dyads engaging in significantly higher levels of social play than same-status dyads. Our findings provide experimental evidence for identifying proximate, environmental stimuli that reliably facilitate social and solitary play and discuss possible genetic (i.e., breed type) and lifetime influences on the form of play in domestic dogs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3758/s13420-017-0283-0DOI Listing
December 2017

Impacts of Encouraging Dog Walking on Returns of Newly Adopted Dogs to a Shelter.

J Appl Anim Welf Sci 2017 Oct-Dec;20(4):357-371. Epub 2017 Jul 11.

a Department of Psychology , Arizona State University.

This study involved examining the ability of a postadoption intervention to reduce returns of newly adopted dogs to shelters by encouraging physical activity between adopters and their dogs. Guardians in the intervention group received emails with dog behavior and human activity advice as well as invitations to join weekly dog walks. Both the intervention and control groups completed surveys regarding outdoor activity with their dogs, their dog-walking habits, and perceptions of their dogs' behaviors. Adopter-dog pairs in the intervention group were not significantly more active than those in the control group, nor did they show a reduced incidence of returning their dogs. Guardians in both groups who reported higher obligation and self-efficacy in their dog walking were more active regardless of experimental condition; however, obligation, dog-walking self-efficacy, and perceptions about their dogs' on-leash behaviors did not predict rates of return to the shelter. These findings add to the understanding of shelter dog re-relinquishment and the effective utilization of resources postadoption, and they indicate further research is needed to address the complexities of this newly forming human-dog relationship.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10888705.2017.1341318DOI Listing
February 2018

Effect of Pet Dogs on Children's Perceived Stress and Cortisol Stress Response.

Soc Dev 2017 May 28;26(2):382-401. Epub 2016 Jul 28.

University of Florida.

The present study tested whether pet dogs have stress-buffering effects for children during a validated laboratory-based protocol, the Trier Social Stress Test for Children (TSST-C). Participants were 101 children aged 7-12 years with their primary caregivers and pet dogs. Children were randomly assigned in the TSST-C to a pet present condition or one of two comparison conditions: parent present or no support figure present. Baseline, response, and recovery indices of perceived stress and cortisol levels were computed based on children's self-reported feelings of stress and salivary cortisol. Results indicated that in the alone (no social support) condition, children showed the expected rise for both perceived stress and cortisol response to stress. Pet dog presence significantly buffered the perceived stress response in comparison to children in the alone and parent present conditions. No main condition effect was observed for cortisol; however, for children experiencing the stressor with their pet present, lower cortisol response to stress was associated with more child-initiated petting and less dog proximity-seeking behavior. The results support the notion that pet dogs can provide socio-emotional benefits for children via stress buffering.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/sode.12203DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5400290PMC
May 2017

Behavioral and Self-report Measures Influencing Children's Reported Attachment to Their Dog.

Anthrozoos 2016 8;29(1):137-150. Epub 2016 Mar 8.

Department of Psychology, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ.

Despite the prevalence of dogs as family pets and increased scientific interest in canine behavior, few studies have investigated characteristics of the child or dog that influence the child-dog relationship. In the present study, we explored how behavioral and self-report measures influence a child's reported feelings of attachment to their dog, as assessed by the Lexington Attachment to Pets Scale (LAPS). We tested specifically whether children (= 99; Age: 10.25 years, SD= 1.31 years) reported stronger attachment to dogs that were perceived as being more supportive (measured by a modified version of the Network of Relationships Inventory), to dogs that are more successful in following the child's pointing gesture in a standard two-object choice test, or to dogs that solicited more petting in a sociability assessment. In addition, we assessed whether children's attachment security to their parent, and whether being responsible for the care of their dog, influenced reported feelings of attachment to the dog. Overall, perceived support provided by the dog was highly predictive of all subscales of the LAPS. The dog's success in following the child's pointing gesture and lower rates of petting during the sociability assessment were associated with higher ratings on the general attachment subscale of the LAPS, but not of other subscales of the LAPS. Caring for the dog did not predict the child's reported attachment to dog, but did predict the dog's behavior on the point following task and petting during the sociability task. If the child cared for the dog, the dog was more likely to be successful on the pointing task and more likely to be petted. These results indicate a dyadic relationship in which the child's care for the dog is associated with the dog's behavior on the behavioral tasks, which in turn is related to the child's reported feelings of attachment. The direction of influence and nature of this dyad will be a fruitful area for future research.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08927936.2015.1088683DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5214578PMC
March 2016

Application of functional analysis methods to assess human-dog interactions.

J Appl Behav Anal 2016 12 26;49(4):970-974. Epub 2016 May 26.

Arizona State University.

Research on owner-dog relationships suggests that they have remarkable features, paralleling those of infant to parents. In this study, we investigated whether, after being separated, access to the owner would function as a reinforcer for domestic dog behavior. We then conducted a functional analysis to determine the specific functional reinforcer (e.g., owner access, attention). Our results demonstrate that owner access can function as a reinforcer. This has implications for understanding the owner-dog relationship and using owner access as a training tool.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jaba.318DOI Listing
December 2016

What's in a Name? Effect of Breed Perceptions & Labeling on Attractiveness, Adoptions & Length of Stay for Pit-Bull-Type Dogs.

PLoS One 2016 23;11(3):e0146857. Epub 2016 Mar 23.

Department of Psychology, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona, United States of America.

Previous research has indicated that certain breeds of dogs stay longer in shelters than others. However, exactly how breed perception and identification influences potential adopters' decisions remains unclear. Current dog breed identification practices in animal shelters are often based upon information supplied by the relinquishing owner, or staff determination based on the dog's phenotype. However, discrepancies have been found between breed identification as typically assessed by welfare agencies and the outcome of DNA analysis. In Study 1, the perceived behavioral and adoptability characteristics of a pit-bull-type dog were compared with those of a Labrador Retriever and Border Collie. How the addition of a human handler influenced those perceptions was also assessed. In Study 2, lengths of stay and perceived attractiveness of dogs that were labeled as pit bull breeds were compared to dogs that were phenotypically similar but were labeled as another breed at an animal shelter. The latter dogs were called "lookalikes." In Study 3, we compared perceived attractiveness in video recordings of pit-bull-type dogs and lookalikes with and without breed labels. Lastly, data from an animal shelter that ceased applying breed labeling on kennels were analyzed, and lengths of stay and outcomes for all dog breeds, including pit bulls, before and after the change in labeling practice were compared. In total, these findings suggest that breed labeling influences potential adopters' perceptions and decision-making. Given the inherent complexity of breed assignment based on morphology coupled with negative breed perceptions, removing breed labels is a relatively low-cost strategy that will likely improve outcomes for dogs in animal shelters.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0146857PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4805246PMC
August 2016

What counts for dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) in a quantity discrimination task?

Behav Processes 2016 Jan 19;122:90-7. Epub 2015 Nov 19.

Department of Psychology, Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ, USA.

Numerous studies have reported that animals reliably discriminate quantities of more or less food. However, little attention has been given to the relative salience of numerosity compared to the total amount of food when animals are making their choices. Here we investigated this issue in dogs. Dogs were given choices between two quantities of food items in three different conditions. In the Congruent condition, the total amount of food co-varied with the number of food items; in the Incongruent condition the total amount was pitted against the numerosity; and in the Controlled condition the total amount between the sets was equal. Results show that dogs based their choice on the total amount of edible food rather than on the number of food items, suggesting that, in food choice tasks, amount counts more than number. The presence of the largest individual item in a set did not bias dogs' choices. A control test excluded the possibility that dogs based their choices on olfactory cues alone.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.beproc.2015.11.013DOI Listing
January 2016

The ontogeny of human point following in dogs: When younger dogs outperform older.

Behav Processes 2015 Oct 17;119:76-85. Epub 2015 Jul 17.

Arizona State University, Department of Psychology, PO Box 871104, Tempe, AZ 85281, USA. Electronic address:

We investigated puppies' responsiveness to hand points differing in salience. Experiment 1 compared performance of younger (8 weeks old) and older (12 weeks) shelter pups in following pointing gestures. We hypothesized that older puppies would show better performance. Both groups followed the easy and moderate but not the difficult pointing cues. Surprisingly, the younger pups outperformed the older ones in following the moderate and difficult points. Investigation of subjects' backgrounds revealed that significantly more younger pups had experience living in human homes than did the older pups. Thus, we conducted a second experiment to isolate the variable experience. We collected additional data from older pet pups living in human homes on the same three point types and compared their performance with the shelter pups from Experiment 1. The pups living in homes accurately followed all three pointing cues. When comparing both experienced groups, the older pet pups outperformed the younger shelter ones, as predicted. When comparing the two same-age groups differing in background experience, the pups living in homes outperformed the shelter pups. A significant correlation between experience with humans and success in following less salient cues was found. The importance of ontogenetic learning in puppies' responsiveness to certain human social cues is discussed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.beproc.2015.07.004DOI Listing
October 2015

Performance of Pugs, German Shepherds, and Greyhounds (Canis lupus familiaris) on an odor-discrimination task.

J Comp Psychol 2015 Aug 25;129(3):237-46. Epub 2015 May 25.

Wynne, Department of Psychology, Arizona State University.

Public opinion and the scientific literature alike reflect a widespread assumption that there are differences in behavior between dog breeds. Direct empirical behavioral assessments of such differences, however, are rare and have produced mixed results. One area where breed differences are often assumed is olfaction, where German Shepherds, hounds, and Labradors are commonly used for odor-detection work, whereas toy breeds and brachycephalic dogs, such as Pugs, are not. Choice of breed for scent detection work, however, may be driven more by historical choices than data. In this article we directly assessed the ability of German Shepherds, Pugs, and Greyhounds to acquire a simple olfactory discrimination, and their ability to maintain performance when the target odorant was diluted. Our results show that contrary to expectations, Pugs significantly outperformed the German Shepherds in acquiring the odor discrimination and maintaining performance when the odorant concentration was decreased. Nine of 10 Greyhounds did not complete acquisition training because they failed a motivation criterion. These results indicate that Pugs outperformed German Shepherds in the dimensions of olfaction assessed. Greyhounds showed a general failure to participate. Overall, our results highlight the importance of direct behavioral measurement of assumed behavioral breed differences.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0039271DOI Listing
August 2015

Improving in-kennel presentation of shelter dogs through response-dependent and response-independent treat delivery.

J Appl Behav Anal 2015 Sep 20;48(3):590-601. Epub 2015 May 20.

ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY.

In a sequence of studies, we evaluated 2 behavioral interventions designed to decrease undesirable in-kennel behaviors of shelter dogs. In Experiment 1, we compared the efficacy of a simple pairing of person with food (response-independent treat delivery) to an increasing interval differential-reinforcement-of-other-behavior (DRO) procedure and a control condition. Both procedures decreased the median percentage of undesirable behavior from baseline (88.13%, interquartile range [IQR] = 52.78% and 66.43%, IQR = 89.06% respectively), and the control condition increased behavior by 15.13% (IQR = 32.08%), H(2) = 6.49, p = .039. In Experiment 2, we assessed the efficacy of a response-independent procedure on the whole shelter population. We found a 68% decrease from baseline in the number of dogs that behaved undesirably (U = -4.16, p < .001). Our results suggest that a response-independent procedure is equivalent in efficacy to a DRO procedure to decrease undesirable in-kennel behavior of shelter dogs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jaba.217DOI Listing
September 2015

Pavlovian conditioning enhances resistance to disruption of dogs performing an odor discrimination.

J Exp Anal Behav 2015 May 24;103(3):484-97. Epub 2015 Apr 24.

Department of Psychology, Arizona State University.

Domestic dogs are used to aid in the detection of a variety of substances such as narcotics and explosives. Under real-world detection situations there are many variables that may disrupt the dog's performance. Prior research on behavioral momentum theory suggests that higher rates of reinforcement produce greater resistance to disruption, and that this is heavily influenced by the stimulus-reinforcer relationship. The present study tests the Pavlovian interpretation of resistance to change using dogs engaged in an odor discrimination task. Dogs were trained on two odor discriminations that alternated every six trials akin to a multiple schedule in which the reinforcement probability for a correct response was always 1. Dogs then received several sessions of either odor Pavlovian conditioning to the S+ of one odor discrimination (Pavlovian group) or explicitly unpaired exposure to the S+ of one odor discrimination (Unpaired group). The remaining odor discrimination pair for each dog always remained an unexposed control. Resistance to disruption was assessed under presession feeding, a food-odor disruptor condition, and extinction, with baseline sessions intervening between disruption conditions. Equivalent baseline detection rates were observed across experimental groups and odorant pairs. Under disruption conditions, Pavlovian conditioning led to enhanced resistance to disruption of detection performance compared to the unexposed control odor discrimination. Unpaired odor conditioning did not influence resistance to disruption. These results suggest that changes in Pavlovian contingencies are sufficient to influence resistance to change.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jeab.151DOI Listing
May 2015

Assessment of attachment behaviour to human caregivers in wolf pups (Canis lupus lupus).

Behav Processes 2015 Jan 13;110:15-21. Epub 2014 Nov 13.

Animal and Rangeland Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR, United States.

Previous research suggested that 16-week old dog pups, but not wolf pups, show attachment behaviour to a human caregiver. Attachment to a caregiver in dog pups has been demonstrated by differential responding to a caregiver compared to a stranger in the Ainsworth Strange Situation Test. We show here that 3-7 week old wolf pups also show attachment-like behaviour to a human caregiver as measured by preferential proximity seeking, preferential contact, and preferential greeting to a human caregiver over a human stranger in a modified and counterbalanced version of the Ainsworth Strange Situation Test. In addition, our results show that preferential responding to a caregiver over a stranger is only apparent following brief isolation. In initial episodes, wolf pups show no differentiation between the caregiver and the stranger; however, following a 2-min separation, the pups show proximity seeking, more contact, and more greeting to the caregiver than the stranger. These results suggest intensive human socialization of a wolf can lead to attachment--like responding to a human caregiver during the first two months of a wolf pup's life.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.beproc.2014.11.005DOI Listing
January 2015

Shut up and pet me! Domestic dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) prefer petting to vocal praise in concurrent and single-alternative choice procedures.

Behav Processes 2015 Jan 27;110:47-59. Epub 2014 Aug 27.

Arizona State University, United States.

The nature of the interactions that maintain the social behavior of dogs toward humans and which interactions dogs prefer have not been thoroughly investigated. We focused here on dogs' preference for petting and vocal praise, and the influence that familiarity (owner vs. stranger) has on that preference. We first used concurrent choice to evaluate dogs' preference for petting or vocal praise and measured the initial choice, the time spent with each alternative, and the number of within-session alternations. We assessed dogs' preference for petting or vocal praise in (1) shelter dogs, (2) owned dogs with strangers providing both interactions, and (3) owned dogs with the dog's owner providing the interactions. Across all experimental groups, dogs preferred petting to vocal praise. We next assessed time spent with each alternative when only one alternative was available at a time in shelter dogs and owned dogs (Experiment 2). Shelter dogs were tested with a stranger and owned dogs were tested with their owners providing the interaction. Dogs alternated between petting and vocal praise, vocal praise and no interaction, or received only petting for eight 3-min sessions of each comparison. Both shelter and owned dogs spent significantly longer in proximity to the experimenter when the interaction was petting compared to vocal praise. Vocal praise produced as little proximity-seeking behavior as did no interaction. Additionally, dogs did not show any sign of satiation with petting across all eight sessions. Overall, petting seems to be an important interaction between dogs and humans that might maintain inter-specific social behavior but vocal praise likely has to be specifically conditioned. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Canine Behavior.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.beproc.2014.08.019DOI Listing
January 2015

Association between increased behavioral persistence and stereotypy in the pet dog.

Behav Processes 2014 Jul 9;106:77-81. Epub 2014 May 9.

Department of Psychology, University of Florida, 945 Center Drive, Gainesville, FL 32611, USA. Electronic address:

The aim of the present study was to evaluate whether dogs that exhibit stereotypy also show higher behavioral persistence in an extinction-learning task. Thirteen pet dogs with stereotypy and 13 breed-matched control dogs were assessed on a resistance to extinction test. Each dog was trained for 40 trials using a food reinforcer to nose-touch the experimenter's hand on a continuous reinforcement schedule. After acquisition, the dogs entered an extinction phase, during which food was no longer delivered. The numbers of nose-touches as well as inter-response times during this phase were recorded. A linear regression found that stereotypy status (t=-2.46, P=.027) and breed type (t=2.44, P=.023) were significant predictors of the number of responses in extinction. Dogs with stereotypy responded more in extinction than control dogs. The mean number of responses was 13.4 (SD=14.7) in the control group and 26.0 (SD=15.3) in the stereotypy group. These results suggest a link between previous laboratory and zoo animal findings on the neurophysiology of stereotypy and the pet dog population. They also have implications for the use of extinction procedures to reduce stereotypic behaviors in pet dogs, as these dogs show enhanced resistance to extinction.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.beproc.2014.04.009DOI Listing
July 2014

Most domestic dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) prefer food to petting: population, context, and schedule effects in concurrent choice.

J Exp Anal Behav 2014 May 18;101(3):385-405. Epub 2014 Mar 18.

University of Florida.

Previous research has indicated both petting (McIntire & Colley, 1967) and food (Feuerbacher & Wynne, 2012) have reinforcing effects on dog behavior and support social behavior towards humans (food: Elliot & King, 1960; social interaction: Brodbeck, 1954). Which type of interaction dogs prefer and which might produce the most social behavior from a dog has not been investigated. In the current study, we assessed how dogs allocated their responding in a concurrent choice between food and petting. Dogs received five 5-min sessions each. In Session 1, both food and petting were continuously delivered contingent on the dog being near the person providing the respective consequence. Across the next three sessions, we thinned the food schedule to a Fixed Interval (FI) 15-s, FI 1-min, and finally extinction. The fifth session reversed back to the original food contingency. We tested owned dogs in familiar (daycare) and unfamiliar (laboratory room) environments, and with their owner or a stranger as the person providing petting. In general, dogs preferred food to petting when food was readily available and all groups showed sensitivity to the thinning food schedule by decreasing their time allocation to food, although there were group and individual differences in the level of sensitivity. How dogs allocated their time with the petting alternative also varied. We found effects of context, familiarity of the person providing petting, and relative deprivation from social interaction on the amount of time dogs allocated to the petting alternative.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jeab.81DOI Listing
May 2014