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Exploring the dog park: Relationships between social behaviours, personality and cortisol in companion dogs

By Lydia Ottenheimer Carrier, Amanda Cyr, Rita E. Anderson, Carolyn J. Walsh

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Abstract

The relationships between behaviour, owner-rated personality, and cortisol were examined in companion dogs that visited a local off-leash dog park. In Study 1, salivary cortisol increased significantly from baseline levels following 20min in the dog park (P=0.013), but not in the same dogs following a 20min on-leash walk. In Study 2, cortisol was correlated with dog park visit frequency, such that dogs which visited the park least often had higher cortisol levels (r=−0.34, P=0.013). Hunched posture in dogs was associated with higher cortisol, even after the effect of park visit frequency was removed. Cortisol appeared to be independent of all other measured behaviours and signals indicative of play, stress, agonism, and mounting, as well as dog time budgets. Nor was cortisol related to dog personality scores as measured by the Monash Canine Personality Questionnaire-Revised (MCPQ-R). Scores on the Extraversion, Amicability, and Neuroticism scales predicted some observations in the park: more extraverted dogs showed higher activity (measured as time budget state changes; R2=0.21, P

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 146
Issue 1
Pages 96-106
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2013.04.002
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Tags
  1. Cortisol
  2. Dog parks
  3. Domestic animals
  4. Personality
  5. Social behavior