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Title: Evaluation and prediction of agonistic behaviour in the domestic dog
Author: Schoening, Barbara
ISNI:       0000 0001 3556 5165
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2006
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To date, the strategy in many countries for prevention of danger originating from dogs, has been a) to ban certain breeds which are supposed to be more aggressive than others, and b) to apply a variety of temperament tests to dogs of all breeds, with the aim of detecting those with elevated aggressiveness. There is some scientific literature in this field, but empirical hypothesis testing is still scarce. The first part of this thesis examines whether "dangerous dogs" can be reliably distinguished from "normal" dogs. In a formal test of aggressive and unacceptable social behaviour, designed to predict aggressive behaviour later in the dog's life, six distinct sets of releasers for aggression were identified (Groups A-F), and a further three in a supplementary test conducted in-home (Groups G-I). Breed, age, sex, and previous training were found to influence the quality and quantity of the behaviour shown in the individual subtests. Responses to Group D (dogs) were associated with previous history of biting dogs; responses to Groups B (threats from humans) and E (play) were associated with previous history of biting people. Both might therefore be predictive of future risk of biting. In addition to aggressive responses, an ethogram was used to characterise the dogs' behaviour; the majority appeared to display aggressive behaviour motivated by a stressful state and/or uncertainty. In the second part, the behavioural development of four litters of Rhodesian Ridgebacks was recorded in weeks four to eight of life, focussing on behaviour shown in dyadic interactions with siblings. When the same dogs were tested as adults, puppy behaviour proved not to be a predictor for any behaviour patterns shown in conflict situations, Biases in the test, and the implications of the results for keeping and breeding dogs, and for prevention of danger arising from dogs, are discussed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available