Scientists Looking at Ways to Predict Best Roles for Working Dogs

Scientists Looking at Ways to Predict Best Roles for Working Dogs

Scientists are finding ways to identify the best dogs for different working roles by looking at their cognitive abilities in a new study.

The research, published in Frontiers in Veterinary Science, says working dogs fulfill a multitude of important positions and are in high demand. But, despite that, only a few dogs are selected for training programs and about 50 percent of them will successfully complete them.

The researchers from the University of Arizona and Duke University say most previous studies look at the temperamental characteristics of successful dogs, but their research looks at their cognitive abilities.

The study used game-based tests to analyze the performance of assistance dogs in training and explosive detection dogs. Researchers found different sets of skills predicted whether a dog would be a good detection or assistance dog - for assistance dogs, social skills were important, while strong short-term memory and sensitivity to human body language were better predictors of good detection dogs.

According to a University of Arizona press release, the findings suggest cognition should be considered along with temperament and physicality when predicting working dog success.

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