Increased resistance to sudden noise by audio stimulation during early ontogeny in German shepherd puppies

CHALOUPKOVÁ, Helena, SVOBODOVÁ, Ivona, VÁPENÍK, Pavel a BARTOŠ, Luděk. Increased resistance to sudden noise by audio stimulation during early ontogeny in German shepherd puppies. PLoS One, 2018, roč. 13(e0196553), s. 1-8. ISSN 1932-6203.
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The period of early ontogeny constitutes a time when the physical immaturity of an organism is highly susceptible to external stimuli. Thus, early development plays a major role in shaping later adult behavior. The aim of the study was to check whether stimulating puppies at this early stage in life with sound would improve their responsiveness towards unfamiliar noises during the selection process of the police behavioral test for puppies. The cohort comprised 37 puppies from the litters of three mothers. At the commencement of the experiment the dogs were aged 16 days, rising to the age of 32 days at its close. The mothers and litters of the treatment group were either exposed to radio broadcasts, (see below; three litters totaling 19 puppies), while the control group was not exposed to any radio programs (eight litters totaling 18 puppies). All three mothers had previously experienced both auditory circumstances, as described herein. Ordinary radio broadcasts were played to the puppies in the treatment group three times a day for 20 minute periods, always during feeding time. The cohort was subjected to the so-called Puppy Test, i.e. analysis of the potential of each animal, once the dogs had reached the age of 7 weeks. Such tests included exposure to a sudden noise caused by a shovel (100 dB), noise when alone in a room, and response to loud distracting stimuli (the latter two at 70 dB). Said tasks were rated by the same analyst on a scale of 0–5 points; the better the response of the dog, the higher the score given. The differences between the treatment and control groups were analyzed via Mixed Models (PROC MIXED) in SAS. The animals comprising the treatment group responded with a higher score to the sudden noise caused by the shovel than the control dogs (P