It’s a dog’s life: Investigating Behavioral and Cognitive Differences Between between Owned and Shelter Dogs
Are there behavioral, cognitive and memory differences between owned and shelter dogs? Previous research has found significantly elevated levels of cortisol in dogs living in shelters compared to dogs living in homes. However few studies have examined possible behavioral and cognitive differences between these two groups of dogs. We compared dogs living in an animal shelter and owned dogs on a series of behavioral persistence, affective bias, memory, and reversal tasks. In three studies, we found that while owned dogs were more often correct than shelter dogs at all intervals, the difference was not significant. Finally, dogs’ sensitivity to reinforcement contingency was tested in a reversal learning task. Learning about these differences will help better understand homing and placement of shelter and rescue dogs. Preliminary results from this and the previous studies will be presented and discussed.
Lisa Gunter, MA is a doctoral candidate at Arizona State University in the Department of Psychology and conducts her research under the mentorship of Clive Wynne in the Canine Science Collaboratory. Her research has been published in PLoS One, Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science and Animal Welfare, and she has presented at numerous scientific and training conferences.
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