Survey of undesirable behaviors displayed by potential guide dogs with puppy walkers

Gazzano, A., Mariti, C., Sighieri, C., Ducci, M., Ciceroni, C. and McBride, E.A. (2008) Survey of undesirable behaviors displayed by potential guide dogs with puppy walkers. Journal of Veterinary Behaviour: Clinical Applications and Research, 3, (3), 104-113. (doi:10.1016/j.jveb.2008.04.002).


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This research aimed to identify the frequency and type of undesirable behaviors observed by guide dog puppy walkers and management strategies used by them during the puppy-walking period.

All members of 36 puppy-walking families (N = 96), recruited from the National School of Guide Dogs for Blind People in Florence (Italy), completed an 80-item questionnaire. This sampling represented homes caring for 28 Labrador Retrievers, 6 Golden Retrievers, and 2 German shepherd dogs. Of these dogs, 47.2% (n = 17) were males and 52.8% (n = 19) females, and 66.7% (n = 24) were between 7 and 12 months old.

Three categories of undesirable behaviors were recorded. First, behaviors considered inconsequential to the guide dog role were: digging (11.8%, n = 11); chewing objects (4.4%, n = 4); stealing or begging for food (3.1%, n = 3); liking people (5.9%, n = 5); getting on furniture (4.4%, n = 4); defending territory (2.8%, n = 2); and coprophagia (5.9%, n = 5). Second, the following behaviors considered easily resolvable through training were recorded: lack of recall (8.9%, n = 10); pulling on lead (11.8%, n = 11); jumping up (28.1%, n = 30); barking at other dogs (5.9%, n = 5); chewing the leash (1.5%, n = 1); and house soiling (5.9%, n = 5). Third, these potentially disqualifying behaviors were observed: scavenging (17.7%, n = 17); aggressive barking, growling, and biting (10.4%, n = 10); and fear of thunderstorms (6.2%, n = 6); loud noises (32.3%, n = 31); men (2.1%, n = 2); women (3.1%, n = 3); and people with unusual clothes (6.2%, n = 6). None of the puppies was reported to be fearful of children.

Overall, 66.7% (n = 66) of respondents recorded at least 1 undesirable behavior. However, only few of them might lead to disqualification. The results suggest that most of the puppies were well socialized to people and not fearful.

Puppy walkers could contribute to the early assessment of potential behavioral problems, which are a major cause of disqualifying guide dogs.

Item Type: Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi:10.1016/j.jveb.2008.04.002
ISSNs: 1558-7878 (print)
Keywords: guide dogs, behaviour, puppy walking
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Q Science > QL Zoology
S Agriculture > SF Animal culture
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Psychology > Division of Cognition
ePrint ID: 55182
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
Date Deposited: 04 Aug 2008
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 12:35

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