Research Highlights

Cognition & Behavior

Understanding how dogs think and behave helps us support dogs in their many jobs in society, from being a part of the family to enhancing independence for people with disabilities. One of the research goals of Canine Companions is to better understand which traits lead to a successful service dog. We study dogs’ cognition and how they problem solve, and how these abilities develop and change over time. We also connect how dogs’ individual experiences and genes contribute to these skills. Through our collaborations with university and industry research programs, we are expanding our knowledge of canine wellness and cognition, as well as the formation of the human-animal bond.

Highlights:

Screenshot of "Inside the brains of aging dogs" article on Knowable

Inside the brains of aging dogs
In a citizen science project, thousands of pet dogs are helping scientists to understand what happens to memory and cognition in old age

Click here to read the full article.*

Two people working with a Canine Companions puppy

Which Dogs Will Make the Grade as Service Dogs?

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.

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person in wheelchair next to Canine Companions service dog

What Makes a Successful Assistance Dog

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.

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Health & Nutrition

A nutritionally complete diet is essential to a dog living a healthy and happy life. Studies increasingly show that balanced age-appropriate diets and a healthy weight are key to preventing and managing disease. Canine Companions has participated in multiple collaborative studies looking at nutrition and how it impacts dogs, many with a focus on diets and supplements for dams and puppies. These studies, some which are ongoing, have included assessments of the properties of milk for young puppies, microbiome development in puppies, and the impact of supplements on brain development and immune function. It’s critical to get puppies off to a good start to help ensure they will have strong minds and bodies as they start their journey as future service dogs!

Impact of Service Dogs

Canine Companions paves the way in the service dog industry by studying the impact of service dogs on people with various disabilities and their families. By better understanding the needs of our clients and how a dog is most useful to them, we can raise, train and select service dogs that will support them best to lead more independent lives.

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