The Importance of Early Life Experiences for the Development of Behavioural Disorders in Domestic Dogs

Scientific Journal Articles

Behavioural disorders are a major reason for euthanasia and sheltering of pet dogs. The prevention and treatment of behavioural disorders requires a better understanding of the underlying causes. Early life experiences, such as maternal care, attachment and socialisation, have long lasting and serious consequences for the behavioural and physiological development of an individual. The complex interplay between these factors is likely to have consequences for the future dog-owner bond and the vulnerability to develop behavioural disorders. Here, we summarise the current literature on the interactions between maternal care, attachment formation, and the sensitive socialisation period and their potential consequences on adult dog behaviour. Based on the findings we highlight gaps in knowledge and provide suggestions for future research which are necessary to formulate recommendations for pet dog breeding and socialisation.

Dietz, L., Arnold, A.K., Goerlich-Jansson, V.C., and Vinke, C.M. (2018). The importance of early life experiences for the development of behavioural disorders in domestic dogs. Behaviour, 155, 83-114.

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Topic(s): Behavior, Breeder Resource, Socialization