A few weeks back Heather Mohan-Gibbons wrote an excellent weblog about assessing a dog’s behavior using cats in a shelter establishing. She rightly mentioned that there surely is such variability (and humane problems ) and little to aid these types of assessments. She offered some wonderful alternatives, and when you have not really seen it yet, that is a great someone to read and share with staff. Coincidently, research was just published that focused on dogs ’ responses to different cat-related cues.
The authors (Hoffman, Workman, Roberts and Handley) conducted a nifty small study where they observed owned doggie behavior to a variety of cues-some cat-related and some that were control stimuli. For example, they used a fake cat that moved in realistic ways versus a pillowcase with an automated device to make it move. While the major aim of this study was to observe dog’s behavior toward the cat-related items to understand if dogs responded differently to the experimental vs . control items, there was a second area of study that was really pretty juicy.
One of the novel and important things about this research was that within the band of 69 canines were 4 dogs who have had injured or killed cats. Three of these got also killed or wounded other small pets, and another 14 got killed another small pet however, not a cat. These details is essential because observing the behavior of canines who’ve previously demonstrated the behavior you are looking to predict, versus those that had not, produces an extremely nice launching pad.
The usage of fake stuffed cats isn’t uncommon in shelters. What this research found is that canines who killed or wounded cats or little animals didn’t behave considerably differently than canines who didn’t kill or injure. Today, there were some restrictions in the study about the display of the artificial cat. As the body of the artificial cat do move, it stayed in a single place. Maybe dogs could have responded in different ways if the cat got moved even more. Still, incredibly interesting and vital that you note for those counting on animated artificial cats to serve as their evaluation tool.
They did find that canines who had killed or injured spent considerably additional time orienting to the sound of a cat than canines who hadn’t killed or injured. Those canines may be more delicate to auditory stimulus generally, as there is a trend for all those canines to also orient against the control audio for an extended period of time.
“ Important thing: Support the adopter and learn whenever you can at intake from the individual bringing the dog for you. ”
As a behaviorist, these data around the auditory stimuli are chewy! Plus they help us to comprehend more about pet dog behavior. As you who aims to use learnings to the field, I believe the finding additional elucidates the task around assessing the probability of the behavior of a specific dog with a specific cat.
Here - i want to explain: While generally there are behavioral distinctions between your two groupings in impulse to sound, there is a wide selection of individual differences for those dogs in the amount of time they spent orienting. It was not as if each doggie who had killed or injured spent 15 seconds orienting, while those who did not spent just 2 seconds. There was a range in each group with some of those times overlapping-with the end result being the average length of time was longer for those who had killed or injured. The statistics point to a significant difference, but the practicality of that significant difference in a shelter setting when looking at an individual dog is likely little. The wide variety of sounds in a shelter setting paired with the other distractions in shelters would likely increase the range of time a doggie may or may not orient.
So , what does that mean for the challenge of assessing doggie behavior with cats to ensure, as best we can, the safety of the cat? I think it points us right back to Heather’s practical advice to support the adopter and learn as much as possible at intake from the person bringing the dog to you. Manage anticipations about proper dog-cat introductions and offer follow-up to support those who may have challenges or questions post-adoption. Practical guidance that can keep dogs and cats safe-and home.