Behaviour 2019
Environmental, human, and biological drivers of sled dog (Canis familiaris) activity
Ming Fei Li1, Lavania Nagendran1, Lauren Schroeder2, David R. Samson2. 1University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada; 2University of Toronto Mississauga, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada

Sled dogs are working dogs that spend the majority of their time outdoors. Their activity is determined by handler schedules and work demands, however, biological and environmental factors may also play a role. In this exploratory study, we use actigraphy data to measure the effects of these extrinsic (i.e., environmental, human) and intrinsic (i.e., biological) factors on activity levels in sled dogs. We collected data from 58 dogs in two locations over a 30-day period using a MotionWatch 8 actigraph sensor attached to the collar. Using generalized linear mixed-effects models, we found that males were significantly more active than females in the evening and night-time, and younger dogs were more active than older dogs between morning and noon. Temperature and moon phase had significant effects on activity levels – dogs were more active when the temperature was lower and during nights with more moonlight. In addition, there were pronounced differences in dogs’ activity between the two locations due to different feeding and working schedules. These results suggest that dog activity is partially entrained to environmental cues, but more so determined by human activity.