Development of a fixed list of terms for the Qualitative Behavioural Assessment of shelter dogs

Autoři: Laura Arena aff001;  Franҫoise Wemelsfelder aff003;  Stefano Messori aff001;  Nicola Ferri aff001;  Shanis Barnard aff004
Působiště autorů: Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale dell’Abruzzo e del Molise ‘G. Caporale’, Teramo, Italy aff001;  Università di Teramo, Facoltà di Medicina Veterinaria, Piano d'Accio, Teramo, Italy aff002;  Animal & Veterinary Sciences, Scotland’s Rural College, Easter Bush, Midlothian, Scotalnd, United Kingdom aff003;  Department of Comparative Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, United States of America aff004
Vyšlo v časopise: PLoS ONE 14(10)
Kategorie: Research Article


The shelter environment may have a severe impact on the dogs’ quality of life, and there is thus a need to develop valid tools to assess their welfare. These tools should be sensitive not only to the animals’ physical health but also to their mental health, including the assessment of positive and negative emotions. Qualitative Behaviour Assessment (QBA) is a ‘whole animal’ measure that captures the expressive quality of an animal’s demeanour, using descriptive terms such as ‘relaxed’, ‘anxious’, and ‘playful’. In this study, for the first time, we developed and tested a fixed-list of qualitative QBA terms for application to kennelled dogs. A list of 20 QBA terms was developed based on literature search and an expert opinion survey. Inter-observer reliability was investigated by asking 11 observers to use these terms to score 13 video clips of kennelled dogs. Principal Component Analysis (PCA) was used to extract four main dimensions explaining 70.9% of the total variation between clips. PC1 characterised curious/playful/excitable/sociable demeanour, PC2 ranged from comfortable/relaxed to anxious/nervous/stressed expression, PC3 described fearful demeanour, and PC4 characterised bored/depressed demeanour. Observers’ agreement on the ranking of video clips on these four expressive dimensions was good (Kendall’s W: 0.60–0.80). ANOVA showed a significant effect of observer on mean clip score on all PCs (p<0.05), due to few observers scoring differently from the rest of the group. Results indicate the potential of the proposed list of QBA terms for sheltered dogs to serve, in alignment with other measures, as a non-invasive assessment tool. However, the observer effect on mean PC scores points towards the need for adequate observer training, particularly in live scoring conditions. The QBA scoring tool can be integrated with existing welfare assessment protocols for shelter dogs and strengthen the power of those protocols to evaluate the animals’ experience in shelters.

Klíčová slova:

Animal behavior – Animal welfare – Dogs – Emotions – Fear – principal component analysis – Research validity – Relaxation (psychology)


1. Taylor KD, Mills DS. The effect of the kennel environment on canine welfare: A critical review of experimental studies. Anim Welf. 2007;16: 435–447.

2. Bollen KS, Horowitz J. Behavioral evaluation and demographic information in the assessment of aggressiveness in shelter dogs. Appl Anim Behav Sci. Elsevier; 2008;112: 120–135. doi: 10.1016/J.APPLANIM.2007.07.007

3. Kiddie JL, Collins LM. Development and validation of a quality of life assessment tool for use in kennelled dogs (Canis familiaris). Appl Anim Behav Sci. 2014;158: 57–68. doi: 10.1016/j.applanim.2014.05.008

4. Kiddie J, Collins L. Identifying environmental and management factors that may be associated with the quality of life of kennelled dogs (Canis familiaris). Appl Anim Behav Sci. Elsevier B.V.; 2015;167: 43–55. doi: 10.1016/j.applanim.2015.03.007

5. Coppola CL, Grandin T, Enns RM. Human interaction and cortisol: Can human contact reduce stress for shelter dogs? Physiol Behav. 2006;87: 537–541. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2005.12.001 16430930

6. Hewson CJ, Hiby EF, Bradshaw JWS. Assessing quality of life in companion and kennelled dogs: a critical review. Anim Welf. 2007;16: 89–95.

7. Barnard S, Pedernera C, Candeloro L, Ferri N, Velarde A, Villa PD. Development of a new welfare assessment protocol for practical application in long-term dog shelters. Vet Rec. 2016;178: 18. doi: 10.1136/vr.103336 26612859

8. Broom DM. The scientific assessment of animal welfare. Appl Anim Behav Sci. Elsevier; 1988;20: 5–19.

9. Duncan IJH. The changing concept of animal sentience. Appl Anim Behav Sci. Elsevier; 2006;100: 11–19. doi: 10.1016/J.APPLANIM.2006.04.011

10. Dawkins MS. Animal Minds and Animal Emotions. Am Zool. 2000;40: 883–888.

11. Boissy A, Manteuffel G, Jensen MB, Moe RO, Spruijt B, Keeling LJ, et al. Assessment of positive emotions in animals to improve their welfare. Physiol Behav. 2007;92: 375–397. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2007.02.003 17428510

12. Yeates JW, Main DCJ. Assessment of positive welfare: a review. Vet J. Elsevier; 2008;175: 293–300. doi: 10.1016/j.tvjl.2007.05.009 17613265

13. Napolitano F, Knierim U, Grasso F, De Rosa G. Positive indicators of cattle welfare and their applicability to on-farm protocols; Italian Journal of Animal Science 2009;8: 355–365.

14. Meagher RK. Observer ratings: Validity and value as a tool for animal welfare research. Appl Anim Behav Sci. Elsevier; 2009;119: 1–14. doi: 10.1016/J.APPLANIM.2009.02.026

15. Wemelsfelder F, Hunter TEA, Mendl MT, Lawrence AB. Assessing the ‘whole animal’: a free choice profiling approach. Anim Behav. Academic Press; 2001;62: 209–220. doi: 10.1006/ANBE.2001.1741

16. Phythian CJ, Michalopoulou E, Duncan JS, Wemelsfelder F. Inter-observer reliability of Qualitative Behavioural Assessments of sheep. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 2013;144: 73–79.

17. Wemelsfelder F, Mullan S. Applying Ethological and Health Indicators to Practical Animal Welfare Assessment. Sci Tech Rev Off Int des Epizoot. 2014;33: 111–120.

18. Fleming PA, Clarke T, Wickham SL, Stockman CA, Barnes AL, Collins T et al. The contribution of qualitative behavioural assessment to appraisal of livestock welfare. Animal Production Science; 2016;56: 1569–1578.

19. Wemelsfelder F. How Animals Communicate Quality of Life: The Qualitative Assessment of Behaviour. Anim Welf. 2007;S: 25–31.

20. Wemelsfelder F, Hunter AE, Paul ES, Lawrence AB. Assessing pig body language: Agreement and consistency between pig farmers, veterinarians, and animal activists1. J Anim Sci. Oxford University Press; 2012;90: 3652–3665. doi: 10.2527/jas.2011-4691 22745187

21. Hintze S, Murphy E, Bachmann I, Wemelsfelder F, Würbel H. Qualitative Behaviour Assessment of horses exposed to short-term emotional treatments. Appl Anim Behav Sci. Elsevier; 2017;196: 44–51. doi: 10.1016/J.APPLANIM.2017.06.012

22. Keeling L, Evans A, Forkman B, Kjaernes U. Welfare Quality® principles and criteria. Improving farm animal welfare. Wageningen: Wageningen Academic Publishers; 2013. pp. 91–114. doi: 10.3920/978-90-8686-770-7_5

23. Battini M, Vieira A, Barbieri S, Ajuda I, Stilwell G, Mattiello S. Invited review: Animal-based indicators for on-farm welfare assessment for dairy goats. J Dairy Sci. Elsevier; 2014;97: 6625–6648. doi: 10.3168/jds.2013-7493 25242423

24. Dalla Costa E, Minero M, Lebelt D, Stucke D, Canali E, Leach MC. Development of the Horse Grimace Scale (HGS) as a Pain Assessment Tool in Horses Undergoing Routine Castration. Hillman E, editor. PLoS One. Public Library of Science; 2014;9: e92281. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0092281 24647606

25. Minero M, Dalla Costa E, Dai F, Murray LAM, Canali E, Wemelsfelder F. Use of Qualitative Behaviour Assessment as an indicator of welfare in donkeys. Appl Anim Behav Sci. Elsevier; 2016;174: 147–153. doi: 10.1016/J.APPLANIM.2015.10.010

26. Walker J, Dale A, Waran N, Clarke N, Farnworth M, Wemelsfelder F. The assessment of emotional expression in dogs using a Free Choice Profiling methodology. Anim Welf. 2010;19: 75–84.

27. Walker JK, Dale AR, D’Eath RB, Wemelsfelder F. Qualitative Behaviour Assessment of dogs in the shelter and home environment and relationship with quantitative behaviour assessment and physiological responses. Appl Anim Behav Sci. 2016;184: 97–108. doi: 10.1016/j.applanim.2016.08.012

28. Arena L, Wemelsfelder F, Messori S, Ferri N, Barnard S. Application of Free Choice Profiling to assess the emotional state of dogs housed in shelter environments. Appl Anim Behav Sci. 2017;195: 72–79. doi: 10.1016/j.applanim.2017.06.005

29. Konok V, Nagy K, Miklósi Á. How do humans represent the emotions of dogs? The resemblance between the human representation of the canine and the human affective space. Appl Anim Behav Sci. Elsevier; 2015;162: 37–46. doi: 10.1016/J.APPLANIM.2014.11.003

30. Tami G, Gallagher A. Description of the behaviour of domestic dog (Canis familiaris) by experienced and inexperienced people. Appl Anim Behav Sci. <Go to ISI>://WOS:000270421600005; 2009;120: 159–169.

31. Jones AC, Gosling SD. Temperament and personality in dogs (Canis familiaris): A review and evaluation of past research. Appl Anim Behav Sci. 2005;95: 1–53.

32. Kubinyi E, Turcsán B, Miklósi Á. Dog and owner demographic characteristics and dog personality trait associations. Behav Processes. 2009;81: 392–401. doi: 10.1016/j.beproc.2009.04.004 19520239

33. Ley J, Bennett P, Coleman G. Personality dimensions that emerge in companion canines. Appl Anim Behav Sci. 2008;110: 305–317. doi:

34. Ley JM, Bennett PC, Coleman GJ. A refinement and validation of the Monash Canine Personality Questionnaire (MCPQ). Appl Anim Behav Sci. Elsevier B.V.; 2009;116: 220–227. doi: 10.1016/j.applanim.2008.09.009

35. Minero M, Tosi MV, Canali E, Wemelsfelder F. Quantitative and qualitative assessment of the response of foals to the presence of an unfamiliar human. Appl Anim Behav Sci. Elsevier; 2009;116: 74–81. doi: 10.1016/J.APPLANIM.2008.07.001

36. Rousing T, Wemelsfelder F. Qualitative assessment of social behaviour of dairy cows housed in loose housing systems. Appl Anim Behav Sci. <Go to ISI>://WOS:000242352400004; 2006;101: 40–53.

37. Minero M., Dalla Costa E., Dai F., Canali E., Barbieri S., Zanella A., et al. Using qualitative behaviour assessment (QBA) to explore the emotional state of horses and its association with human-animal relationship. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 204, 53–59.

38. Grosso L, Battini M, Wemelsfelder F, Barbieri S, Minero M, Dalla Costa E, et al. On-farm Qualitative Behaviour Assessment of dairy goats in different housing conditions. Appl Anim Behav Sci. Elsevier; 2016;180: 51–57. doi: 10.1016/j.applanim.2016.04.013

39. Titulaer M., Blackwell E.J., Mendl M., Casey R.A., 2013. Cross sectional study comparing behavioural, cognitive and physiological indicators of welfare between short and long term kennelled domestic dogs. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci. 147, 149–158. doi: 10.1016/j.applanim.2013.05.001

40. Mendl M, Burman OHP, Paul ES. An integrative and functional framework for the study of animal emotion and mood. Proc R Soc B Biol Sci. 2010;277: 2895–2904. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2010.0303 20685706

41. Bergamasco L, Osella MC, Savarino P, Larosa G, Ozella L, Manassero M, et al. Heart rate variability and saliva cortisol assessment in shelter dog: Human-animal interaction effects. Appl Anim Behav Sci. 2010;125: 56–68. doi: 10.1016/j.applanim.2010.03.002

42. Wells D, Hepper PG. The Behaviour of Dogs in a Rescue Shelter. Anim Welf. Universities Federation for Animal Welfare; 1992;1: 171–186.

43. Hiby EF, Rooney NJ, Bradshaw JWS. Behavioural and physiological responses of dogs entering re-homing kennels. Physiol Behav. 2006;89: 385–391. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2006.07.012 16905163

44. Mendl M, Burman OHP, Paul ES. An integrative and functional framework for the study of animal emotion and mood. Proc R Soc B Biol Sci. 2010;277: 2895–2904. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2010.0303 20685706

45. Kaler J, Wassink GJ, Green LE. The inter- and intra-observer reliability of a locomotion scoring scale for sheep. Vet J. W.B. Saunders; 2009;180: 189–194. doi: 10.1016/J.TVJL.2007.12.028 18308594

46. Munch KL, Wapstra E, Thomas S, Fisher M, Sinn DL. What are we measuring? Novices agree amongst themselves (but not always with experts) in their assessment of dog behaviour. Ethology; 2019;1–9.

47. Phythian C, Michalopoulou E, Duncan J, Wemelsfelder F. Inter-observer reliability of Qualitative Behavioural Assessments of sheep. Appl Anim Behav Sci. Elsevier; 2013;144: 73–79. doi: 10.1016/J.APPLANIM.2012.11.011

48. Czycholl I, Beilage EG, Henning C, Krieter J. Reliability of the qualitative behavior assessment as included in the Welfare Quality Assessment protocol for growing pigs1. J Anim Sci. Oxford University Press; 2017;95: 3445–3454. doi: 10.2527/jas.2017.1525 28805930

49. Muri K, Stubsjoen SM. Inter-observer reliability of Qualitative Behavioural Assessments (QBA) of housed sheep in Norway using fixed lists of descriptors. Anim Welf. Universities Federation for Animal Welfare; 2017;26: 427–435

50. Bloom T, Friedman H. Classifying dogs’(Canis familiaris) facial expressions from photographs. Behav Processes, 2013;96: 1–10. doi: 10.1016/j.beproc.2013.02.010 23485925

51. Demirbas YS, Ozturk H, Emre B, Kockaya M, Ozvardar T, Scott A. Adults’ ability to interpret canine body language during a dog–child interaction. Anthrozoös; 2016;9 581–596, doi: 10.1080/08927936.2016.1228750

52. Wells D.L., Hepper P.G., 1999. Male and female dogs respond differently to men and women. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci. 61, 341–349. doi: 10.1016/S0168-1591(98)00202-0

53. Boissy A, Lee C. How assessing relationships between emotions and cognition can improve farm animal welfare. Rev Sci Tech Int Des Epizoot. <Go to ISI>://WOS:000337765700010; 2014;33: 103–110.

Článek vyšel v časopise


2019 Číslo 10
Nejčtenější tento týden