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Behavior Science Blog

My webinar notes are written out and sketched on my ipad Pro using the notability app. I welcome feedback, questions, discussion, corrections. Some of these notes may be reworked into infographics in the future.

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Breeds and Temperaments

Updated: Dec 24, 2022

My rough notes taken from a American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior (AVSAB) summary of a paper by Lindsay Merkham and Clive Wynne. (2017): "Behavioral Differences among Breeds of Domestic Dogs".


Apologies for my terrible handwriting.



The UNOPERATIONALIZED LABELS are confusing and problematic to me too and I feel some relief that I wasn't thinking this on my own. (See my Topography & Function blog post)


This screencap above is from another paper that discusses breed temperament using the C-BARQ questionnaire (which shows up in many dog science papers that I have on my reading list). I cringed so much reading this questionnaire.


I question how ethical and judgement-free these tests are. Manhandle? Stare at???


Recently I read an unpublished paper by a canine ethologist (which I don't think I am permitted share publicly) that suggests an alternative way to assess a dog's "personality" that doesn't rely on these types of questionnaires and task-based tests. The "testing" should perhaps instead encourage a non-judgmental, non-aversive, (and potentially educational) relationship between the person and the dog or between the observer and the observed, letting the dog be in a safe environment, make choices, offer consent (or not), do various things, solve problems, show curiosity. The testing processs lets the dog reveal their personality over time, in various environments and dialogues with the person, presuming that no personality assessment can ever be an "objective" one. This approach - that takes the environmental conditions and reinforcement contingencies, and the emotional wellbeing of the dog into consideration - makes more sense to me than putting dogs in situations where they may go over threshold and earn a "aggressive" label simply for responding to valid threats.


Do people still use C-BARQ? WHY?


Also, I may attempt to sketch out some notes from the more recent Morrill paper on breed and behavior...



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