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Dog behaviours in veterinary consultations: part II. The relationship between the behaviours of dogs and their owners

By M. Helsly, N. Priymenko, C. Girault, C. Duranton, F. Gaunet

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Dogs synchronise their behaviour with those of their owners when confronted with an unfamiliar situation and interactions with their owners have been shown to decrease the dog's stress levels in some instances. However, whether owners may help manage dog anxiety during veterinary consultations remains unclear. In Part I, we compared the behaviour of dogs in the presence or absence of their owners during consultations, which consisted in three phases: exploration, examination, and greeting. Our findings suggest that allowing owners to attend consultations may be beneficial for dogs. In Part II, we investigated the direct relationship between owners' actions and their dog's behaviour. Using the videos from Part I, we examined whether: (1) dogs interact more when their owner is more interactive; (2) owners' stress scores are related to canine stress-related behaviour and emotional state; (3) owners' actions influence canine stress-related behaviours, emotional state and tolerance to manipulations; (4) canine stress-related behaviours and emotional state are associated with increased eye contact with their owners. We analysed the recordings of 29 dog-owner dyads submitted to a veterinary consultation in Part I. The behaviours of the dogs and their owners were analysed, and their emotional states were scored. The ease of manipulations was also scored. Despite limitations (e.g. no physical contact during examinations, no invasive procedures, aggressive dogs excluded, no male owners, limited sample size), our study showed a link between dog and owner behaviours: when owners attended an examination, their negative behaviours intensified the signs of anxiety in their dogs. Additionally, visual and verbal attempts to comfort their dog had no significant effect. However, we observed that the more dogs displayed stress-related behaviours, the more they established eye contact with their owners, suggesting that dogs seek information (through social referencing) or reassurance from their owners.

Publication Title Veterinary Journal
Volume 281
ISBN/ISSN 1090-0233
DOI 10.1016/j.tvjl.2022.105789
Language English
Notes Cited Reference Count: 64 ref.1Priymenko, Nathalie/A-7988-2019Priymenko, Nathalie/0000-0001-8521-4152Elsevier LtdOxford, UK
Author Address Ecole Nationale Veterinaire de Toulouse, ENVT, 23 chemin des Capelles, BP 87614, 31076 Toulouse Cedex, France.marylou.helsly@gmail.com
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animal health and hygiene
  3. Animals
  4. Animal welfare
  5. Anthrozoology
  6. Anxiety
  7. Behavioral research
  8. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  9. Business
  10. Canidae
  11. Canine
  12. Carnivores
  13. Dogs
  14. Emotions
  15. Hygiene
  16. Mammals
  17. Pets and companion animals
  18. Practice and service
  19. professionals
  20. sociability
  21. Stress
  22. vertebrates
  23. veterinary practices
  24. Veterinary sciences
  25. Veterinary services
  26. welfare
  27. Zoology