Consistency in Behavior: Evaluation of Behavior Tests in Laboratory Beagles

Scientific Journal Articles

In the present report, we analyzed the consistency in the behavior of laboratory dogs in 4 standardized tests (an encounter test with a familiar caretaker, an encounter test with an unfamiliar test person, a simulation of experimental manipulation, and a complex behavior test) that were conducted on 2 consecutive days. We further analyzed whether the dogs’ behavior in the subsequent tests could be predicted by the preceding tests. Data of 90 laboratory beagles kept in 4 research facilities were reevaluated for this purpose by using Kruskal’s gamma, Spearman rank correlation, and simple linear regression. Correlations of behavior scores based on the behavior reactions of the dogs were low to moderate between the investigations. Only the test part isolation, where the dogs were left alone in an unfamiliar room, was highly correlated to the test part entering (of another unfamiliar room) in the experimental manipulation. Regarding the body language scores, there were considerably more moderate to high correlations between the respective investigations and test parts. The encounter test with the familiar caretaker had predictive power (P < 0.001) regarding the encounter test with an unfamiliar test person on the next day but not with respect to the behavior in the behavior test. However, the experimental manipulation predicted the behavior in the behavior test (P < 0.001). We conclude that body language is more consistent for individual dogs than are their reactions in different situations. Thus, a detailed behavior test that includes different situations and stimuli cannot be replaced by a simple encounter test in the familiar housing surroundings. In contrast, the simulation of experimental manipulation can be a better predictive tool.

Döring, D., Haberland, B.E., Bauer, A., Dobenecker, B., Hack, R., Schmidt, J., and Erhard, M. (2017). Consistency in behavior: Evaluation of behavior tests in laboratory beagles. Journal of Veterinary Behavior, 21, 59-63. DOI: 10.1016/j.jveb.2017.07.002.


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Topic(s): Behavior, Problem Abnormal Behavior, Recognition, Research and Teaching