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Improving behavior monitoring within a working dog program – Presented by Becky Hunt

Various departments within working dog production programmes have different behavioural data needs. Breeding programmes require heritable temperament information while training departments require information on modifiable behaviours. To address these differing needs, Guide Dogs UK recently designed a new dog behaviour monitoring system. The system combines standardised behaviour assessments with the ability to record ad hoc behaviour incidents and behaviour development plans, and track dogs through a standardised training programme. Behavioural observations from a range of primary care givers, including staff and volunteers, ensure a wide range of data are collected on a dogs’ behaviour.

The design of the new system was informed by an extensive review of scientific literature, previous Guide Dogs’ research and in consultation with Guide Dogs’ subject matter experts. The behaviour data collected are based on up to date behavioural science and the requirements of a working dog programme. The resulting behaviour data are then available to provide temperament trait information for the breeding department. Furthermore, recording and monitoring more accurate behavioural information supports dog wellbeing; behaviour problems can be identified early, and the data can be used to ensure the correct working role is selected for dogs.

The presentation will explain the design of the system including the underpinning research and evidence used, will demonstrate the data that are collected and will highlight examples of the different data outputs available. The system has the potential revolutionise how working dog organisations consider and use their behaviour data to manage their dogs and inform their breeding programmes.

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