Canine Companions collaborates with multiple universities to conduct top-notch research on canine health and behavior. Our goal is to better understand which traits lead to a successful working dog.
Dr. Evan MacLean, director of the Arizona Canine Cognition Center at the University of Arizona, is exploring ways to identify the best dogs for different jobs – before they start the long and expensive training process — by looking at their cognitive abilities.
Becoming an assistance dog is like going to college. It’s tough to get in and not everyone graduates. “We want to identify those features that are going to be linked to success,” said Brenda Kennedy, DVM, MS, Canine Companions national director of canine health and research.
What makes a successful life-changing assistance dog: brains, brawn, or behavior? A new study of thousands of Canine Companions for Independence® dogs may have some answers, identifying predictors of success in a field where the majority of dogs don’t make the cut.
Canine Companions dogs stood apart from the pet dogs in one interesting measurement—the fMRI determined that the reward center of the brain acted differently when our dogs were rewarded by their familiar handler than by a stranger. Pet dogs didn’t have the same biomarker changes.
Dr. Evan MacLean and Dr. Emily Bray with members of the Arizona Canine Cognition Center at the University of Arizona are exploring how a puppy’s early abilities are associated with their later success as an assistance dog.