Breed-dependent differences in the onset of fear-related avoidance behavior in puppies

Mary Morrow, Joseph Ottobre, Ann Ottobre, Peter Neville, Normand St-Pierre, Nancy Dreschel, Joy Lee Pate

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The onset of fear-related avoidance behavior occurs during and, to some extent, defines the sensitive period of development in the domestic dog. The objectives of this study were to identify the onset of fear-related avoidance behavior and examine breed differences in this behavioral development. A total of 98 purebred puppies representing 3 breeds were tested, namely Cavalier King Charles spaniels (n= 33), Yorkshire terriers (n= 32), and German shepherd dogs (n= 33). Data were collected weekly beginning 4-5 weeks after birth until 10 weeks of age. Puppies took part in 4 tests during each visit: a novel item, seesaw, step, and loud noise test. During each test, the presence or absence of fear-related avoidance behavior and crouched posture were noted. Saliva was also collected to measure salivary cortisol concentrations in the puppies before and after testing. A later onset of fear-related avoidance behavior was observed in Cavalier King Charles spaniels compared with German shepherd dog and Yorkshire terrier puppies (F= 11.78, N= 29, P <0.001). The proportion of treatment puppies that exhibited fear in response to the testing was also different (χ2= 9.81, N= 56, P= 0.007): Yorkshire terriers (N= 14, 78%), Cavalier King Charles spaniel (N= 10, 53%), and German shepherd dogs (N= 5, 26%). Cortisol concentrations decreased with age. Cavalier King Charles spaniel puppies that demonstrated fear-related avoidance behavior exhibited a greater (t= 2.133, N= 79, P= 0.036) cortisol response than puppies that did not exhibit the behavior. Breed differences in the crouch response to the loud noise test, regardless of age, were observed (F= 18.26, N= 98, P<0.001). Cavalier King Charles spaniels demonstrated the highest incidence of crouching followed by the Yorkshire Terriers. Breed differences in puppy mobility were observed beginning at 6 weeks of age, with German shepherd dogs demonstrating the most mobility and Cavalier King Charles spaniels the least. The results of this study support the hypothesis that emotional and behavioral development, as well as the onset of fear-related avoidance behavior, varies among breeds of domestic dogs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)286-294
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research
Volume10
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015

Fingerprint

Avoidance Learning
avoidance behavior
puppies
fearfulness
Fear
breeds
Dogs
German Shepherd
breed differences
dogs
Hydrocortisone
cortisol
testing
Noise
Posture
Saliva
purebreds
posture
saliva
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • veterinary(all)

Cite this

Morrow, Mary ; Ottobre, Joseph ; Ottobre, Ann ; Neville, Peter ; St-Pierre, Normand ; Dreschel, Nancy ; Pate, Joy Lee. / Breed-dependent differences in the onset of fear-related avoidance behavior in puppies. In: Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research. 2015 ; Vol. 10, No. 4. pp. 286-294.
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abstract = "The onset of fear-related avoidance behavior occurs during and, to some extent, defines the sensitive period of development in the domestic dog. The objectives of this study were to identify the onset of fear-related avoidance behavior and examine breed differences in this behavioral development. A total of 98 purebred puppies representing 3 breeds were tested, namely Cavalier King Charles spaniels (n= 33), Yorkshire terriers (n= 32), and German shepherd dogs (n= 33). Data were collected weekly beginning 4-5 weeks after birth until 10 weeks of age. Puppies took part in 4 tests during each visit: a novel item, seesaw, step, and loud noise test. During each test, the presence or absence of fear-related avoidance behavior and crouched posture were noted. Saliva was also collected to measure salivary cortisol concentrations in the puppies before and after testing. A later onset of fear-related avoidance behavior was observed in Cavalier King Charles spaniels compared with German shepherd dog and Yorkshire terrier puppies (F= 11.78, N= 29, P <0.001). The proportion of treatment puppies that exhibited fear in response to the testing was also different (χ2= 9.81, N= 56, P= 0.007): Yorkshire terriers (N= 14, 78{\%}), Cavalier King Charles spaniel (N= 10, 53{\%}), and German shepherd dogs (N= 5, 26{\%}). Cortisol concentrations decreased with age. Cavalier King Charles spaniel puppies that demonstrated fear-related avoidance behavior exhibited a greater (t= 2.133, N= 79, P= 0.036) cortisol response than puppies that did not exhibit the behavior. Breed differences in the crouch response to the loud noise test, regardless of age, were observed (F= 18.26, N= 98, P<0.001). Cavalier King Charles spaniels demonstrated the highest incidence of crouching followed by the Yorkshire Terriers. Breed differences in puppy mobility were observed beginning at 6 weeks of age, with German shepherd dogs demonstrating the most mobility and Cavalier King Charles spaniels the least. The results of this study support the hypothesis that emotional and behavioral development, as well as the onset of fear-related avoidance behavior, varies among breeds of domestic dogs.",
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Breed-dependent differences in the onset of fear-related avoidance behavior in puppies. / Morrow, Mary; Ottobre, Joseph; Ottobre, Ann; Neville, Peter; St-Pierre, Normand; Dreschel, Nancy; Pate, Joy Lee.

In: Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research, Vol. 10, No. 4, 01.07.2015, p. 286-294.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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T1 - Breed-dependent differences in the onset of fear-related avoidance behavior in puppies

AU - Morrow, Mary

AU - Ottobre, Joseph

AU - Ottobre, Ann

AU - Neville, Peter

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AU - Dreschel, Nancy

AU - Pate, Joy Lee

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