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Measuring fear in dogs by questionnaires: An exploratory study toward a standardized inventory

By Andrea Temesi, Borbála Turcsán, Ádám Miklósi

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Several types of questionnaires are in use to measure fear-related behaviour in family dogs. Our aim was to develop a general questionnaire based on relevant previous studies in order to facilitate the standardization of measurements of fear-related behaviour in dogs (social fear, non-social fear, separation problems, anxiety/destructiveness and neuroticism). We investigated which aspects of fear do emerge as distinct factors when measuring fear in dogs with our consensus questionnaire. We developed the questionnaire by piercing together seven discrete fear-related factors from six previous studies representing different aspects of fear. Our final questionnaire consisted of 56 items and was filled out by 833 Hungarian pet dog owners. Principal component analysis was applied to explore the factorial structure of the questionnaire scores. The original seven factors used in developing the questionnaire did not emerged as discrete factors. Instead, we found four factors (33 questionnaire items) labeled as neuroticism (CRA=0.87), dog-directed fear (CRA=0.84), human-directed fear (CRA=0.90) and separation-related behavior (CRA=0.83). The effects of demographic and dog keeping characteristics on these factors were also tested by generalized linear models (GLMs). For example, toy dogs had a higher risk to show neuroticism and dog-directed fear. Female owners were more frequently reporting human-directed fear in their dogs. Female dogs showed higher level of dog-directed fear. Older dogs score was higher on neuroticism and neuroticism correlated with the time of acquisition. The standardization of specific trait measures provides an advantage to the researchers in constructing further, more specific tools and offers a greater comparability of research across dog and human populations.

Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 161
Pages 121-130
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2014.09.009
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal behavior
  2. Demography
  3. Fear
  4. Noise
  5. Questionnaires
  6. Separation Reactions