Benefits of intraspecific social exposure in adult Swiss military dogs

Gfrerer, Nastassja; Taborsky, Michael; Würbel, Hanno (2018). Benefits of intraspecific social exposure in adult Swiss military dogs. Applied animal behaviour science, 201, pp. 54-60. Elsevier 10.1016/j.applanim.2017.12.016

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Domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) are social animals and, therefore, social interactions with conspecifics are crucial for their welfare. However, in kennelled dogs, the ability to interact with conspecifics may be limited. Swiss military dogs, for instance, are kept individually without direct contact to conspecifics. Here we asked whether short-term exposure to conspecifics may be beneficial for dogs kept in isolation. The treatment lasted for eight weeks and consisted of one session weekly of three hours of social exposure. During social exposure, focal dogs were allowed direct contact with conspecifics but were supervised by the experimenter who intervened when necessary to prevent dogs from attacking one another. Immediately before and after the treatment phase, the dogs’ reactions towards unfamiliar objects (including a dog model) and an unfamiliar male dog (stimulus dog) were assessed both in experimental dogs (with social exposure, n=29) and control dogs (without social exposure, n=27). We predicted a positive effect of the social exposure, i.e. less offensive and defensive behaviours shown towards both the unfamiliar dog model and stimulus dog. In accordance with our predictions, experimental dogs showed a greater decrease in offensive and defensive behaviours compared to control dogs. Although none of these dogs had been socialised conventionally like family dogs are, we found a clear positive effect of social exposure in adult dogs on their social behaviour. Thus, working dogs, which are otherwise kept singly, may benefit from temporary social exposure in terms of both their working ability and their wellbeing

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Clinical Research and Veterinary Public Health (DCR-VPH) > Veterinary Public Health Institute > Animal Welfare Division
05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Clinical Research and Veterinary Public Health (DCR-VPH) > Veterinary Public Health Institute
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE)
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE) > Behavioural Ecology
05 Veterinary Medicine > Department of Clinical Research and Veterinary Public Health (DCR-VPH)
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE) > Conservation Biology

UniBE Contributor:

Gfrerer, Nastassja; Taborsky, Michael and Würbel, Hanno

Subjects:

300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 330 Economics
500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
500 Science > 590 Animals (Zoology)
600 Technology > 630 Agriculture

ISSN:

0168-1591

Publisher:

Elsevier

Language:

English

Submitter:

Lilian Karin Smith-Wirth

Date Deposited:

27 Mar 2019 10:43

Last Modified:

26 Oct 2019 01:10

Publisher DOI:

10.1016/j.applanim.2017.12.016

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.125701

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/125701

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