The Swedish Armed Forces use working dogs ifor several different purposes such as patrol, guarding and detection. Military and police dogs are often exposed to stressful situations and it is important to have a dog that can handle it. To select suitable dogs, a standardized behavioural test is used. The test consists of 12 potentially fearful stimuli and behaviours observed during the test are the basis for whether the dog gets approved for further training or not. The purpose with the test is to select the dogs that handle the potentially stressful stimuli in a desirable way.
When a stress stimulus is percevied a stress response is activated. The behavioural stress response is the first one and can be displayed by, for example, moving away from the stress stimulus. However, behaviours displayed are dependent on the individual and how much experince the individual has of similar stimuli. A physiological stress response also takes place where cortisol secretion occurs. Cortisol concentrations have been established as a biochemical marker of stress in dogs and is commonly used for measuring stress levels. There are different ways of collecting samples of cortisol, but saliva sampling is an easy and less invasive way than for example blood sampling.
The aim of the present study was to investigate if there is a behavioural and/or physiological difference between approved and non-approved dogs in the standardized behavioural test. One prediction was that cortisol concentrations post-test will be higher than pre-test since the test is considered to be stressful. It is also predicted that a difference in cortisol concentrations and behaviours displayed, should be seen between approved and non-approved dogs.
Responsible for this page: Agneta Johansson
Last updated: 05/22/14