Effects of a standardized obedience program on approachability and problem behaviors in dogs from rescue shelters
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Improved adoptability is a common goal among rescue shelters. Dogs are more likely to be adopted if they are friendly, mannerly, and approachable. The possibility of improving rescue shelter dogs' behavior through an obedience program has not been examined. We developed an approachability test to determine whether dogs became more approachable during and after a standardized 12-week obedience program. We also quantified jumping behavior and pulling on the leash to measure if these problematic behaviors also improved through training. The subjects consisted of 26 dogs donated to the Triple Crown School for Professional Dog Trainers for one of the 12-week sessions. The approach test was administered six times, at two-week intervals. The tests were videotaped and jumping and pulling behaviors were quantified after testing. Scores for approachability were based on the proximity between the tester and the dog at the end of each test. For the dogs that completed all 12 weeks of the study, contingency analyses were performed for each behavioral measure. Relative to the start of the 12-week training program, the dogs became more approachable (p<0.025), jumped less (p<0.025), and pulled on the leash less (p<0.025) than when the study began. These results reinforce the importance of obedience training as a tool for increasing a rescue shelter dog's adoptability and permanence once placed in a home.
Hays, Lauren Denise (2004). Effects of a standardized obedience program on approachability and problem behaviors in dogs from rescue shelters. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from