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  • Author or Editor: James A. Serpell x
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Abstract

Objective—To develop and validate a questionnaire to assess behavior and temperament traits of pet dogs.

Design—Cross-sectional survey of dog owners.

Animals—1,851 dogs belonging to clients of a veterinary teaching hospital or members of national breed clubs and 203 dogs examined by canine behavior practitioners because of behavior problems.

Procedure—Owners were asked to complete a questionnaire consisting of 152 items eliciting information on how dogs responded to specific events and situations in their usual environment. Data from completed questionnaires were subjected to factor analysis, and the resulting factors were tested for reliability and validity.

Results—Factor analysis yielded 11 factors from 68 of the original questionnaire items that together accounted for 57% of the common variance in questionnaire item scores. Reliability was acceptable for all but 1 of these factors. Behavior problems in 200 of the 203 dogs with behavior problems could be assigned to 7 diagnostic categories that matched 7 of the factors identified during factor analysis of questionnaire responses. Dogs assigned to particular diagnostic categories had significantly higher scores for corresponding questionnaire factors than did those assigned to unrelated diagnostic categories, indicating that the factors were valid .Validity of the remaining 4 factors could not be examined because of a lack of information on dogs with behavior problems related to these factors.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Findings suggest that the resulting 68-item questionnaire is a reliable and valid method of assessing behavior and temperament traits in dogs. The questionnaire may be useful in screening dogs for behavior problems and in evaluating the clinical effects of various treatments for behavior problems. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2003;223: 1293–1300)

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

Objective—To evaluate a behavioral intake questionnaire in animal shelters for the presence of biased results and assess its use in the characterization of behavioral problems of dogs relinquished to shelters.

Design—Cross-sectional study.

Animals—54 dogs being relinquished to a shelter and 784 dogs belonging to veterinary clients.

Procedure—Owners who were relinquishing their dogs and agreed to complete the behavioral questionnaire were alternately assigned to 1 of 2 groups; participants were aware that information provided would be confidential or nonconfidential (ie, likely used for adoption purposes). Data from confidential and nonconfidential information groups were compared, and the former were compared with data (collected via the questionnaire) regarding a population of client-owned dogs.

Results—Analyses revealed significant differences in 2 areas of reported problem behavior between the confidential and nonconfidential information groups: owner-directed aggression and stranger-directed fear. Compared with client-owned–group data, significantly more relinquished shelter dogs in the confidential information group were reported to have ownerdirected aggression, stranger-directed aggression, dog-directed aggression or fear, stranger-directed fear, nonsocial fear, and separation-related behaviors.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Among persons relinquishing dogs to a shelter, those who believed questionnaire responses were confidential reported owner-directed aggression and fear of strangers in their pets more frequently than relinquishers who believed responses were nonconfidential. Confidentiality had no apparent effect on the reporting of other assessed behavioral problems. Results suggest that behavioral questionnaires may sometimes provide inaccurate information in a shelter setting, but the information may still be useful when evaluating behavior of relinquished dogs. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2005;227:1755–1761)

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

Objective—To evaluate early medical and behavioral effects of deployment to the World Trade Center, Fresh Kills Landfill, or the Pentagon on responding search-and-rescue (SAR) dogs.

Design—Prospective double cohort study.

Animals—The first cohort included SAR dogs responding to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks (deployed), and the second cohort included SAR dogs trained in a similar manner but not deployed (controls). Enrollment occurred from October 2001 to June 2002.

Procedure—Dogs were examined by their local veterinarians; thoracic radiographs and blood samples were shipped to the University of Pennsylvania for analysis. Handlers completed medical and training histories and a canine behavioral survey.

Results—Deployed dogs were older and had more search experience than control dogs. Serum concentrations of globulin and bilirubin and activity of alkaline phosphatase were significantly higher in deployed dogs, independent of age and training. Despite significant differences in several blood parameters, values for both groups were within reference ranges. No pulmonary abnormalities were detected on radiographs, and no significant differences in behavior or medical history were detected between groups.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Within the first year following the September 11 attacks, there was no evidence that responding dogs developed adverse effects related to their work. Mild but significantly higher serum concentrations of globulin and bilirubin and activity of alkaline phosphatase in deployed dogs suggested higher antigen or toxin exposure. These dogs will be monitored for delayed effects for at least 3 years. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2004;225:861–867)

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Abstract

Objective—To compare the owner-reported prevalence of behavioral characteristics in dogs obtained as puppies from pet stores with that of dogs obtained as puppies from noncommercial breeders.

Design—Cross-sectional study.

Animals—Dogs obtained as puppies from pet stores (n = 413) and breeder-obtained dogs (5,657).

Procedures—Behavioral evaluations were obtained from a large convenience sample of current dog owners with the online version of the Canine Behavioral Assessment and Research Questionnaire, which uses ordinal scales to rate either the intensity or frequency of the dogs’ behavior. Hierarchic linear and logistic regression models were used to analyze the effects of source of acquisition on behavioral outcomes when various confounding and intervening variables were controlled for.

Results—Pet store–derived dogs received significantly less favorable scores than did breeder-obtained dogs on 12 of 14 of the behavioral variables measured; pet store dogs did not score more favorably than breeder dogs in any behavioral category. Compared with dogs obtained as puppies from noncommercial breeders, dogs obtained as puppies from pet stores had significantly greater aggression toward human family members, unfamiliar people, and other dogs; greater fear of other dogs and nonsocial stimuli; and greater separation-related problems and house soiling.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Obtaining dogs from pet stores versus noncommercial breeders represented a significant risk factor for the development of a wide range of undesirable behavioral characteristics. Until the causes of the unfavorable differences detected in this group of dogs can be specifically identified and remedied, the authors cannot recommend that puppies be obtained from pet stores.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association