Increasing the success rate of working dogs on Australian farms has the potential to improve efficiency for farmers and the welfare of their dogs. A survey of over 800 Australian stock dog owners is currently under analysis. Data have been gathered about 4,000+ of their dogs, past and present, to identify desirable canine attributes and the rate of and reasons for failure. The survey data are being used to examine associations between performance success and husbandry and training methods, investigating the human and canine factors affecting the performance and longevity of working farm dogs.
These associations will undergo further exploration by analysing the characteristics of accomplished dog handlers and the traits of their dogs as assessed by personality testing, heart rate variability and problem solving tasks. These measures can then be used with modern genomic technologies to explore gene-behaviour associations and inform the development of estimated breeding values for the Australian working Kelpie.
Researcher: Elizabeth Arnott BVSc MVS MACVS
Institute: The University of Sydney
Research Website: http://bit.ly/115XpSv