Duke University’s ‘puppy kindergarten’ will help raise assistance dogs. Learn more and see some media coverage.
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.
In a new venture between Canine Companions and Duke University, Dr. Brian Hare, a leader in the field of canine cognition, is working with 8-16-week-old Canine Companions pups at Duke to study their traits and experiences. Then he’ll track them through formal Canine Companions training to see which qualities turn out to foreshadow success.
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.