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JoAnna Lou
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Canine Behavior Database
C-BARQ provides data for valuable research
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Recently, I attended a presentation of Parvene Farhoody’s research on the physical and behavioral effects of spaying and neutering, which is currently being prepared for publication. There were a lot of interesting findings that I can’t share until they’re published (I promise to do so when they are!), but I did learn about an important database.

Parvene’s research was based on analysis of data from C-BARQ, a database developed by researchers at the Center for the Interaction of Animals and Society of the University of Pennsylvania.  It’s the only behavioral assessment instrument of its kind to be extensively tested for reliability and validity on large samples of dogs. Currently, there are more than 14,000 dogs in the database.

The assessment consists of 101 questions that describe the different ways in which dogs typically respond to common events, situations, and stimuli in the environment. Even better, anyone can submit their dog’s assessment. The interface is easy to use and takes about 10-15 minutes to complete.

C-BARQ is fun because after you’re finished, you can see how your dog’s behavior compares to other dogs in the database. Though you can only take the results with a grain of salt, it’s interesting. I wasn’t surprised that Nemo scored gold stars (the symbol for scoring in the good to average range) for most behaviors and scored two red flags (the symbol for scoring less favorably than at least 90 percent of the sample) for begging. However, I was surprised that Nemo scored one red flag (the symbol for scoring less favorably than at least 75 percent of the sample) for trainability. Nemo has always been an easy dog to train!

Nonetheless, C-BARQ is an important resource. The data from C-BARQ contributes to many research studies that will help us better understand our dogs, so I encourage you to take the time to fill out as assessment for each of your pets.

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JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.

Screenshots taken from the C-BARQ website.

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Submitted by Frances | January 13 2011 |

Very interesting - and rather reassuring! Both of mine scored red flags for low energy - which I suspect is because we lead a very low stress life with plenty of exercise! Poppy, my toy poodle, who I consider to be a rather nervous, velcro dog actually scored better than breed, and better than average, in both these areas. I am not sure how scientific the results are, though - lumping eating rabbit droppings in with eating own faeces is rather a broad category, and my idea of moderate excitement might be your idea of totally OTT!

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