Project Title

Analysis of a Volunteer-Based Shelter Dog Training Program: Impact of Age and Breed on Training Speed.

Academic department under which the project should be listed

RCHSS - Psychological Science

Faculty Sponsor Name

Dr. Allison Martin

Abstract (300 words maximum)

In recent years, animal research integrated within shelters has informed best practices on animal management and training. In the U.S., it’s common practice for shelters to implement training programs addressing behavioral issues and ensuring dogs can successfully acclimate into their adopted homes. This study utilizes an archival analysis of data compiled between 2020 - 2021 from volunteer-collected training sessions and shelter databases at an adoption center in Kennesaw, Georgia. My initial analysis focused on assessing the program through descriptive statistics. Of the 166 dogs analyzed so far, those involved in the training program averaged 2.79 years in age (SD = 2.87) and included multiple breed groups: Sporting (28%), Toy (17%), Terrier (12%), Hound (16%), Herding (16%), Non-Sporting (2%), Working (9%). Each dog averaged 2.71 behaviors learned (SD = 3.21) and 4.67 training sessions (SD = 4.19) within the time allotted before adoption. My primary analysis will investigate the relationship of training speed to age and breed. Breed type has been found to have a significant role in training efficiency, with Retrievers and Labradors ranking highest in trainability (Serpell & Hsu, 2005). Based on past literature, I hypothesize that training speed will differ with breed. Additionally, previous studies have found that neural development within canines declines with age (Chapagain et al., 2020). I hypothesize that training speed will vary with age due to the compared neural plasticity of young/old canines. The findings from this research will benefit animal shelter training programs while adding basic knowledge towards canine trainability factors.

Disciplines

Animal Sciences | Experimental Analysis of Behavior | Psychology

Project Type

Oral Presentation (15-min time slots)

How will this be presented?

Yes, in person

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Analysis of a Volunteer-Based Shelter Dog Training Program: Impact of Age and Breed on Training Speed.

In recent years, animal research integrated within shelters has informed best practices on animal management and training. In the U.S., it’s common practice for shelters to implement training programs addressing behavioral issues and ensuring dogs can successfully acclimate into their adopted homes. This study utilizes an archival analysis of data compiled between 2020 - 2021 from volunteer-collected training sessions and shelter databases at an adoption center in Kennesaw, Georgia. My initial analysis focused on assessing the program through descriptive statistics. Of the 166 dogs analyzed so far, those involved in the training program averaged 2.79 years in age (SD = 2.87) and included multiple breed groups: Sporting (28%), Toy (17%), Terrier (12%), Hound (16%), Herding (16%), Non-Sporting (2%), Working (9%). Each dog averaged 2.71 behaviors learned (SD = 3.21) and 4.67 training sessions (SD = 4.19) within the time allotted before adoption. My primary analysis will investigate the relationship of training speed to age and breed. Breed type has been found to have a significant role in training efficiency, with Retrievers and Labradors ranking highest in trainability (Serpell & Hsu, 2005). Based on past literature, I hypothesize that training speed will differ with breed. Additionally, previous studies have found that neural development within canines declines with age (Chapagain et al., 2020). I hypothesize that training speed will vary with age due to the compared neural plasticity of young/old canines. The findings from this research will benefit animal shelter training programs while adding basic knowledge towards canine trainability factors.

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