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Evaluating the effect of early neurological stimulation on the development and training of mine detection dogs

By A. Schoon, T. G. Berntsen

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Early neurological stimulation (ENS) has been proposed to enhance the natural abilities of dogs. This kind of stimulation involves subjecting pups aged between 3 and 16 days to mild forms of stimulation leading to "stress," and is said to lead to faster maturation and better problem-solving abilities later in life. ENS resulted from a U.S. Military program called Bio Sensor, and is currently being used in some other working dog programs. It has been part of the breeding program for mine detection dogs at the Global Training Centre (GTC, part of Norwegian People's Aid) for 4 years. To investigate the effects of ENS on the basis of a previous study (Battaglia, 2009, J. Vet. Behav.: Clin. Appl. Res. 4, 203-210), 10 litters born since the spring of 2008 at the GTC were randomly divided into the following 2 groups: (1) those receiving ENS, and (2) those receiving the same amount of human attention without being subjected to the ENS exercises. Developmental parameters were monitored by the kennel staff. The pups were subjected to testing at approximately 10 weeks of age by investigators who were blinded to treatment. Their careers as working dogs were monitored. There was no observed effect of ENS on either the development of the pups when compared with those who were exposed to the standard GTC stimulation program within the same age range or on the later training results of the dogs in their careers as mine detection dogs. This lack of effect could well be the result of the very rich standards of the GTC socialization program that is given to these dogs.

Publication Title Journal of Veterinary Behavior: Clinical Applications and Research
Volume 6
Issue 2
Pages 150-157
ISBN/ISSN 1558-7878
DOI 10.1016/j.jveb.2010.09.017
Language English
Author Address ADConsultancy, Leiden University, PO box 9516, 2300 RA Leiden,
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animals
  3. Breeding
  4. Breeding program
  5. Canidae
  6. Canine
  7. Carnivores
  8. Dogs
  9. Effect
  10. Litters
  11. Mammals
  12. Maturity
  13. nervous system
  14. peer-reviewed
  15. standards
  16. stimulation
  17. training
  18. training centers
  19. vertebrates
  20. young animals
  1. peer-reviewed