Minor procedural variations affect canine behavior during sociability assessments

Kelsea M. Brown, Erica N. Feuerbacher, Nathaniel J. Hall, Alexandra Protopopova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A growing number of studies make claims about canine sociability in both applied and basic contexts. Yet, there is currently no standard for measuring sociability in dogs. The purpose of this two-part study was to determine whether procedural differences among canine sociability tests would affect dogs’ behavior. In Experiment 1, we used a mixed-subjects design to assess whether experimenter position (standing, sitting, or kneeling) and presence of affection (petting and praise or none) affected leashed dogs’ social behavior. Mixed-effect logistic regression modeling showed statistically significant main effects and interactions between posture and social contact. On average, dogs were more social when the experimenter knelt and provided social contact. However, there were individual differences in how dogs were affected by changes in procedure. In Experiment 2, we examined correspondence between leashed and unleashed dogs’ social behaviors including time in proximity, following patterns, eye gaze, body orientation, jumping, and touching. Individual differences were examined by calculating a binomial mixed-effect logistic regression with condition (leashed, off-leash, following) and subject ID as fixed effects. Interactions were statistically significant for all behaviors, indicating that individual differences were present. The results have implications for the validity of sociability tests.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104145
JournalBehavioural Processes
StatePublished - Aug 2020


  • Behavior evaluation
  • Dog
  • Methodology
  • Sociability


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