Canine science completed projects

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Improving puppy behaviour using a standardised socialisation program

Early socialisation and habituation are very important for a puppy’s wellbeing to provide them with the ability to develop skills, to learn how to cope with new experiences in a positive way and to support them as they grow and mature into adult dogs. This study, published in the journal Applied Animal Behaviour Science, presents the first evidence-based programme to help puppies aged 0-6 weeks become familiar with the world around them in a positive way, tailoring socialisation to the puppy’s development.

The findings prove that specific interactions in this crucial development phase improve confidence and reduce behaviours associated with anxiety and stress in adult dogs, which is vital for working guide dogs. The short video below explains the puppy socialisation programme further.  

The effects of environmental enrichment on dog behaviour

Environmental enrichment (EE) is a technique designed to enhance the quality of life of animals, by providing environmental stimuli to promote wellbeing. This study trialled seven EE activities including food based activities, interactions with handlers and devices such as a bacon scented bubble machine.

Results suggest that the wellbeing of dogs can be positively impacted by utilising a range of EE activities and rotating their use. Findings suggest that, when considering a programme of EE activities, food-based EE activities should be used in moderation and in addition to other novel and physical EE activities. Results from this study have been used to ensure our dogs receive a variety of appropriate EE to maximise benefits and wellbeing. Findings from this study could be relevant for dogs housed in a kennel environment, for working and assistance dogs, and for pet dogs. Visit the IAABC Journal to read more about this study.

Clinical management of female dogs with endometrial hyperplasia using post-mating antibiotic

Cystic endometrial hyperplasia (CEH) is a disease that affects the uterus of female dogs. In dogs with CEH inflammation of the lining of the uterus occurs after mating and it appears to affect the dog’s fertility. Guide Dogs has undertaken three studies into managing this condition within our breeding programme.

These studies have demonstrated that the practice of routine ultrasound examination of female dogs prior to mating enables identification of new cases of CEH, and treatment of affected dogs with antibiotics for four days post-mating improves pregnancy rates and litter sizes. Read more about our work on CEH in the following journal articles: 

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