The effect of conspecific removal on the behaviour and physiology of pair-housed shelter dogs

Walker, Jessica K., Waran, Natalie K. and Phillips, Clive J. C. (2014) The effect of conspecific removal on the behaviour and physiology of pair-housed shelter dogs. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 158 46-56. doi:10.1016/j.applanim.2014.06.010

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Author Walker, Jessica K.
Waran, Natalie K.
Phillips, Clive J. C.
Title The effect of conspecific removal on the behaviour and physiology of pair-housed shelter dogs
Journal name Applied Animal Behaviour Science   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0168-1591
Publication date 2014-09-01
Year available 2014
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2014.06.010
Volume 158
Start page 46
End page 56
Total pages 11
Place of publication Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Publisher Elsevier
Collection year 2015
Language eng
Abstract Dogs (Canis familiaris) are a highly social species and within a shelter environment pair-housing is recommended to prevent the stress associated with social isolation. Separation of individuals which may have formed bonds in this environment is a usual occurrence, as a result of rehoming or euthanasia. To investigate the impact of separation, the behaviour, cognitive bias, faecal S-IgA and cortisol levels were examined in 12 adult pair-housed dogs, maintained in a private animal shelter. Prior to separation, dogs engaged in more affiliative than agonistic behaviour with conspecifics (means of 3 and 0.1% of time respectively). Following separation, increased activity was observed in the form of more running and grooming (P= 0.02), circling (P= 0.006), figure of 8 movement (P= 0.01), posture changes (P= 0.003) and stretching (P= 0.005), and less play behaviour was observed (P= 0.01). Secretory IgA increased (P=0.02) after separation (mean. = 443.7. ±. 182.5. ng/mL; before separation mean. = 370.1. ±. 108.2. ng/mL). Cortisol concentrations were not affected by separation (P= 0.26, mean before separation. = 792. ng/g; mean after separation. = 874. ng/g). There was no indication from cognitive bias testing that the dogs' emotional valency was affected, as latencies to reach ambiguous cues before and after separation did not differ significantly (P= 0.33). These results demonstrate that separation of a dog from a conspecific negatively affected behaviour and stimulated the immune system, changes which could be indicative of stress.
Keyword Behaviour
Cognitive bias
Conspecific separation
Immunoglobulin A
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2015 Collection
School of Veterinary Science Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 8 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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