You Are Not My Handler! Impact of Changing Handlers on Dogs’ Behaviours and Detection Performance

Jamieson, La Toya J. and Baxter, Greg S. and Murray, Peter J. ORCID: (2018) You Are Not My Handler! Impact of Changing Handlers on Dogs’ Behaviours and Detection Performance. Animals, 8 (10):176. pp. 1-11. ISSN 2076-2615

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Dog-handler relationships can directly impact team success. Changing a dog’s handler may therefore compromise detection performance. However, there are currently few studies which support this. This research explored the performance and behavioural impact of changing a dog’s handler. Nine dogs trained at scent detection were accuracy tested with a familiar and unfamiliar handler. Both handlers were female with similar dog handling experience. The dogs were tested along brick lines containing target, non-target, and control samples. Testing was separated into four sessions, with each session having 36 samples. The dogs’ accuracy scores were then calculated and testing footage behaviour coded. The dogs had significantly higher sensitivity (p = 0.045) and negative predictive value (NPV) (p = 0.041) scores when handled by the familiar handler. With the unfamiliar handler the dogs performed more stress-related behaviours, and were distracted for a higher proportion of time (p = 0.012). Time spent distracted was negatively correlated to detection performance (correlation = −0.923, p < 0.001). With the unfamiliar handler the dogs’ performance did not improve throughout testing (p = 0.553). This research demonstrates how these dogs’ detection performances were impacted by changing handlers. Future research is required to determine if professional dog-handler teams are impacted similarly.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: No Faculty
Date Deposited: 08 Mar 2021 03:01
Last Modified: 11 Mar 2021 00:30
Uncontrolled Keywords: dogs; dog handler; detection performance; behaviour
Fields of Research (2008): 06 Biological Sciences > 0608 Zoology > 060801 Animal Behaviour
16 Studies in Human Society > 1699 Other Studies in Human Society > 169999 Studies in Human Society not elsewhere classified
Fields of Research (2020): 44 HUMAN SOCIETY > 4499 Other human society > 449999 Other human society not elsewhere classified
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3109 Zoology > 310901 Animal behaviour
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): D Environment > 96 Environment > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960899 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity of Environments not elsewhere classified
Socio-Economic Objectives (2020): 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1899 Other environmental management > 189999 Other environmental management not elsewhere classified
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