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An evidence-based decision assistance model for predicting training outcome in juvenile guide dogs

Harvey, Naomi D.; Craigon, Peter J.; Blythe, Simon A.; England, Gary C.W.; Asher, Lucy

Authors

Naomi D. Harvey

Peter J. Craigon

Simon A. Blythe

Gary C.W. England

Lucy Asher



Abstract

Working dog organisations, such as Guide Dogs, need to regularly assess the behaviour of the dogs they train. In this study we developed a questionnaire-style behaviour assessment completed by training supervisors of juvenile guide dogs aged 5, 8 and 12 months old (n = 1,401), and evaluated aspects of its reliability and validity. Specifically, internal reliability, temporal consistency, construct validity, predictive criterion validity (comparing against later training outcome) and concurrent criterion validity (comparing against a standardised behaviour test) were evaluated. Thirty-nine questions were sourced either from previously published literature or created to meet requirements identified via Guide Dogs staff surveys and staff feedback. Internal reliability analyses revealed seven reliable and interpretable trait scales named according to the questions within them as: Adaptability; Body Sensitivity; Distractibility; Excitability; General Anxiety; Trainability and Stair Anxiety. Intra-individual temporal consistency of the scale scores between 5±8, 8±12 and 5±12 months was high. All scales excepting Body Sensitivity showed some degree of concurrent criterion validity. Predictive criterion validity was supported for all seven scales, since associations were found with training outcome, at at-least one age. Thresholds of z-scores on the scales were identified that were able to distinguish later training outcome by identifying 8.4% of all dogs withdrawn for behaviour and 8.5% of all qualified dogs, with 84% and 85% specificity. The questionnaire assessment was reliable and could detect traits that are consistent within individuals over time, despite juvenile dogs undergoing development during the study period. By applying thresholds to scores produced from the questionnaire this assessment could prove to be a highly valuable decision-making tool for Guide Dogs. This is the first questionnaire-style assessment of juvenile dogs that has shown value in predicting the training outcome of individual working dogs.

Citation

Harvey, N. D., Craigon, P. J., Blythe, S. A., England, G. C., & Asher, L. (2017). An evidence-based decision assistance model for predicting training outcome in juvenile guide dogs. PLoS ONE, 12(6), https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0174261

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 6, 2017
Publication Date Jun 14, 2017
Deposit Date Jun 22, 2017
Publicly Available Date Jun 22, 2017
Journal PLoS ONE
Electronic ISSN 1932-6203
Publisher Public Library of Science
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 12
Issue 6
Article Number e0174261
DOI https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0174261
Public URL http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/43717
Publisher URL http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0174261
Copyright Statement Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0

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Copyright Statement
Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0





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