Behavioral persistence is associated with poorer olfactory discrimination learning in domestic dogs

S. Dalal, N. J. Hall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Domestic dogs are trained for a wide variety of jobs; however, half of dogs that enter working dog training organizations never become certified. The aim of this study was to identify whether a basic measure of behavioral persistence was associated with sixteen dogs’ performance on an odor discrimination learning task. Further, we evaluated whether dogs that adopted more of a win-stay or win-shift strategy during discrimination learning was associated with greater persistence. Lastly, we tested if measures of a standardized canine behavior questionnaire (the CBARQ) predicted discrimination learning. We found greater persistence during extinction was associated with poorer discrimination learning. Further, dogs that employed more of a win-stay strategy (compared to win-shift) during the discrimination learning phase showed greater persistence in the persistence task and poorer performance on the odor discrimination task. Lastly, the CBARQ measure of trainability showed a trend association with odor discrimination performance, but no other behavioral characteristics were related. Overall, high levels of behavioral persistence is detrimental to olfactory discrimination learning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-71
Number of pages8
JournalBehavioural Processes
StatePublished - May 2019


  • Canine behavior
  • Extinction
  • Odor detection
  • Odor discrimination
  • Persistence
  • Working dogs


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