Dogs

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The results of the study scaled the dogs on five dimensions of behavior temperament: playfulness, curiosity/fearfulness, chase-proneness, sociability, and aggressiveness (De Palma et al., 2005). Dogs living in rescue shelters were assessed as demonstrating a low degree of playfulness, showing distraction by the environment when being enticed to play. The sheltered dogs also scored low on curiosity but, high on fearful behavior. The cortisol levels for the sheltered dogs were significantly higher than the cortisol levels of canines living in households, indicative of stress and anxiety associated with shelter lifestyle. Shelter dogs showed a low proportion of chase-proneness supported by demonstrations of low physical activity and excitability.

Shelter dogs were assessed as exhibiting low levels of sociability toward conspecies but, a high sociability when concerning humans (De Palma et al., 2005). This trend was also demonstrated when observing levels of aggressiveness; the dogs seemed more antagonistic toward conspecies than humans. It should be noted that shelter dogs displayed rare bouts of hostile behavior and results were supported by little data.

It is interesting to find a set of shared characteristics existing in canines living in rescue shelters. Such findings lead one to speculate if the shelter environment may be partly responsible for inducing behavior characteristics? After all, dogs living in shelters are subjected to a variety of stressors including isolation from attachment figures, loss of control, intense noise, and a multitude of other distressing stimuli (Tuber, Miller, Caris, Halter, Linden & Hennessy, 1999). A dog enduring such a harsh environment is likely to acquire abnormal social behavior, retarded ...

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...able the rescue staff and volunteers to be proficiently skilled in executing canine behavioral therapies. As a result, shelters would be able to help community members eradicate problem behaviors and improve the bond with their pets. This would allow shelters to become a first resource, not just a final solution.

Part Two

Review of Personal Experiences

Since as far back as I can remember, I have always loved dogs! As a young girl, I would often beg my parents to let me adopt one, but they refused. My father was not keen on dogs and had a low tolerance for their typical behaviors.

I was determined to get a dog, despite my parents’ denial. Whenever I would encounter a dog unaccompanied by its owner, I would take it home with me. When I was confronted by my parents, I would cry and make up some elaborate story as to why we had to “rescue” that dog.
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