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Effect of Feeding Enrichment Upon Reported Working Ability and Behavior of Kenneled Working Dogs

NCJ Number
Journal of Forensic Sciences Volume: 53 Issue: 6 Dated: November 2008 Pages: 1400-1404
Samantha A. Gaines Ph.D.; Nicola J. Rooney Ph.D.; John W.S. Bradshaw Ph.D.
Date Published
November 2008
5 pages
This study tested the validity of the widespread belief that enhanced environmental enrichment (toys or feeding devices) for kenneled working dogs reduces their motivation to work.
The study concluded that if correctly managed, feeding enrichment could be provided to kenneled working dogs without any detrimental effects on their working ability, health, or behavior. Changes for all scored attributes of the dogs in the sample, whether or not they received food enrichment, were virtually the same both before and after completion of the experimental period. Dogs from three Royal Air Force Police Dog stations were assigned to this study by senior personnel. The sample of dogs that completed the study consisted of 20 German Shepherds, 1 Belgian Malinois, and 1 mixed breed of a German Shepherd and a Belgian Malinois. Fifteen were male and 7 were female. Handlers of these dogs were asked to rate their dogs on 11 attributes that pertained to working ability, related behavioral traits, and health. Eight of the dogs were then provided with daily feeding enrichment for 4 months; the rest of the dogs were given equivalent human attention but no food enrichment. The same 11 traits were scored again for all dogs following the enrichment period. 1 table and 24 references