Behaviour 2019
Search
Identifying predictive behaviors for a search and rescue career in puppies
Sarah A. Kane1,2, Jennifer L. Essler1, Jordan Gillespie1, Patricia Kaynaroglu1, Herman K. Lehman2, Cynthia M. Otto1. 1Penn Vet Working Dog Center, University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, Philadelphia, PA, United States; 2Hamilton College, Clinton, NY, United States

Search and rescue (SAR) canines are essential elements to the search and rescue effort that occurs after disasters. To excel in this field, these dogs must be both highly trained, but also possess certain behaviors including enthusiasm to search out and possess toys, sociability, and resilience. The training of these dogs is expensive and time consuming, and so it is imperative that dogs that are selected for training are behaviorally suited to the work and less likely to fail out of training. A series of puppy aptitude tests conducted at the Penn Vet Working Dog Center were retrospectively analyzed to identify potential predictive behaviors in SAR dogs at a young age (n=41). The behavioral tests (i.e. a hunt and retrieve test, a test of resilience on heights, and a tug test) were performed every three to four days from 8-13.5 weeks of age. The test videos were evaluated using a behavioral ethogram to determine whether certain behaviors or behavior frequencies were unique to dogs that did, or did not, eventually become successful SAR dogs.