Assistance dogs have different characteristics in common regardless of breed or occupation. Bred by schools and chosen to be kind, loyal, and loving, they all desire to serve and please.
Many properties contribute to success: you can follow instructions, but also make independent decisions if necessary. focus on specific tasks but be able to generalize to new, complicated, and sometimes abstract situations; recover quickly from stressful situations; Overcoming the natural instinct to ignore other dogs, cats, wildlife and food from strangers; and lie quietly under a table or bench for hours when you’re not working.
Failure to meet any of these complex issues can affect an assistance dog’s career. It’s no wonder less than 50 percent of dogs bred to help people graduate. And of those, another 10 percent are brought back to school within two years, usually because the dog finds the work too stressful. Mistakes can be life threatening for the handler and lead to the dog being burned out early. Hence, it is crucial to identify traits that can create or break a partnership. The sooner the better.
Evolutionary anthropologist and author Brian Hare, co-director and founder of the Canine Cognition Center at Duke University, is recognized for his seminal studies in canine cognition and conducts a study to assess the effects of various rearing strategies on the behavior and cognitive development of assistance dogs to rate .
His majors include puppies bred by Canine Companions for Independence, a California-based nonprofit that provides professionally trained dogs to people with disabilities. Hare has worked with CCI for more than a decade. Your dogs are trained to help children and adults complete a variety of tasks, including: B. when opening doors, when picking up fallen objects, when switching on lights and when alerting to important noises. The school also supports dogs with veterans who have PTSD.
Eight to ten week old puppies from CCI kennels are housed in volunteer homes for 15 months. There they learn basic obedience, house manners, and social skills. The school supports you in every development phase.
The Duke study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, aims to compare the effects of different rearing methods on cognition over the period most critical for brain development between eight and 18 weeks of age. Because he wants to know what specific social experiences puppies need in order to be successful working dogs, Hare intensifies the socialization phase during these formative weeks. The Duke pups are raised around each other and in a stream of different people. Campus students are invited to attend kindergarten, and thousands do.
Each semester, a group of eight week old puppies is enrolled on the Duke campus for three months. They live with volunteer students, sleep in dormitories, hang out on campus and attend what is known as the puppy kindergarten, where they take 14 cognitive tests every two weeks between the ages of eight and 20 weeks.
Similar to agility paradigms, puppies are instructed to overcome, avoid, or overcome obstacles and make decisions about how novel puzzles are to be solved. Are they waiting for their person’s cue or are they following their instincts? Will they rely on memory or ask for a little human help? Will they react to the first impulse or use new information?
Researchers evaluate self-control, problem-solving skills, and communicating with people. The methodology aims to work out cognitive approaches – the specific way that a puppy solves a problem.
The program is not an intelligence test. It is also not a race test, as people within a race have different personalities. Rather, the research team wants to sort out the independent thinkers of the team players and the generalists of the specialist. You are looking for thinkers whose problem-solving skills can predict future success.
Part of any behavioral study, whether using mice or non-human primates, is to measure, quantify, and evaluate the results so that the results can be translated into real life. If the Duke researchers achieve their goal, the trainers can use their results to predict the success of very young dogs long before they enter the two-year program.
Knowing what a dog’s innate abilities are after three months helps the IHK, as the school can spend more time on potential dog candidates and less money on each team that produces them. Dogs unsuitable for work could sooner be placed with one of the happy families on a long list waiting to adopt the dogs with career change.
This groundbreaking research promises a brighter future for all dogs, as well as those with whom they will eventually work or be rehabilitated.