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  • #5782
    linda holub 2
    linda holub 2
    Participant

    Your newest survey seems to correlate to genetic research recently done which maps canine fear and aggression (https://bmcgenomics.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12864-016-2936-3). They found “genetic predisposition to aggression toward an owner or a familiar dog is distinct from that for fear and aggression directed at unfamiliar humans and dogs. The researchers identified approximately 12 genes associated with these traits”. They noted that applying this information to human behavior will be difficult due to heterogeneity but genetically testing for these traits and finding medications which may help dogs is a possibility.
    I’m very interested the direction or directions you intend pursue with the DNA you have received. Very little is known with how genes correlate to behavior and it will probably take a long time to map and verify the findings. With this understanding will you be able to share information with everyone as you find it or will it be classified until you have verified your results? Also at this time do you know, based on the surveys completed, which correlating DNA behavior(s) you want to start mapping?

    #5783
    jesse mcclure
    jesse mcclure
    Participant

    Those are wonderful questions Linda. I hope to be able to have a thorough response soon but for now a few previews: we are casting a wide net of gathering genetic variation relevant to a wide range of behaviors including fear and anxiety. We do hope that any contributions we can make to basic science will aid in applied fields in both veterinary and human medicine.

    But the direct motivation of adding the newest survey was to aid in another project we have headed up by the newest member of or research team [Kathryn Lord](https://darwinsdogs.org/?pg=about). This is also a great excuse to drag her on to the forums to say a few words. Unfortunately while we’ve been plowing through the snow in Massachusetts, she just headed out to Hawaii! When she get’s back I’ll see if she wants to chime in here about her work with wolves and wolf hybrids. In a very small nutshell, she has been exploring the differences in behavioral development in wolves and dogs and she has joined our group to study potential genetic / epigenetic regulation of early developmental periods in dogs and wolves. As part of her work, she wanted a bit more detail on the range of social behavior we see in pet dogs so she assembled these additional survey questions on socialization with humans.

    #5784
    linda holub 2
    linda holub 2
    Participant

    Very interesting. I hope you are able to get her to give us a summary of what she’s been working on. (In Texas it is 79 degrees — I personally wish it were a bit colder and more like winter.)

    #5785
    dawn miller
    dawn miller
    Participant

    thanks, I hadn’t noticed the new survey questions. It is good to check back now and then. Or is there a way you could “ping” folks to let them know new questions have come up.

    #5786
    kathryn lord
    kathryn lord
    Participant

    Hi Linda,

    Thank you for your questions. My main research interest is in the development and evolution of behavior. In the past I have focused on differences during development that explain the changes in adult behavior between wolves and dogs and between breeds of dogs. As a member of the Karlsson lab I am now starting a new project to see if we can determine the genetic and epigenetic mechanisms that may cause these changes in development.

    We are particularly interested in differences during the critical period of socialization, a time early in the development of mammals when their developing brains are extremely sensitive to environmental input. In other words, what a young mammal sees, hears, smells and touches during this time period can change how their brain grows and ultimately how they interact with the world as adults. During this time young mammals form social bonds, and positive experiences with new things render them familiar.

    I have found that while dogs’ critical period is shifted two weeks later than wolves, they both still develop their senses at the same time. This means that dogs and wolves have very different early experiences during this important developmental period. I have also found that different dog breeds have different length critical periods of socialization, allowing them more or less time to encounter new things and form social bonds.

    We will be doing some more direct measures of critical period length in dogs and wolves and looking at the variation of social behavior between dogs and wolves and dog/wolf hybrids. This questionnaire is an attempt to see what the variation in social behavior is across the population of pet dogs and to see if they are associated with the same genes we find in these other studies.

    #5787
    dawn miller
    dawn miller
    Participant

    very interesting. I know that some folks get very enthusiastic about “socializing the puppy”. Too often we under socialize as well as over do it. Once you find the sweet spot, will you have any tips on how to help pups become well rounded adults?

    #5788
    kathryn lord
    kathryn lord
    Participant

    Hi car2ner,

    Thank you for your interest. We are not going to be looking directly at the amounts or types of socialization during the critical period in this particular study. Instead we are confirming the timing of the critical period of socialization in different breeds of dogs and wolves and trying to understand how these differences are controlled. This variation in timing changes how different breeds of dogs and wolves experience the same environment, during this very sensitive developmental period, and consequently, for the rest of their lives. For example, regardless of early environment, the shorter the critical period is the less time there is for the dog to encounter new things and the more likely they are to show fear of novelty as adults. The longer the critical period the more likely they are to experience more things and be less fearful of novelty as adults.

    #5789
    dawn miller
    dawn miller
    Participant

    Even between my two dogs, same breed, same breeder, different parents, I’ve seen different fear periods. My male breezed through puppy-hood. My female turned into a hormonal mess around her second heat, like a second fear period. Poor gal was like a moody human teenager trying to understand the meaning of life. We are still working through an issue that began then.

    I look forward to seeing what you folks come up with.

    #5790
    kathryn lord
    kathryn lord
    Participant

    Hi Car2ner,

    You bring up two interesting points.
    1) There is variation within breeds. You are absolutely right! If we look at individuals within a breed we see different pups progressing towards the end of the critical period at different rates. Differences in experiences during the critical period can further exacerbate later behavioral differences. Even littermates growing up in the same place can have different early experiences. But if we look at a group of labradors for example and compare them to a group of German shepherds, we see that on average labradors are progressing to the end of their critical period of socialization more slowly than German shepherds.

    2) Something is going on in adolescence/early adulthood. The critical period we are focused on presently is the primary critical period of socialization, which happens in the first months of life. However, there has long been talk of the possibility of a secondary critical period of socialization toward the end of adolescence/ beginning of adulthood. Such a period has been found in mice, and while behavior is not as flexible during this period as it is during the primary critical period, it is still important in the development of adult behavior in mice. We currently do not know what or if there is an equivalent period in dogs, but I think it is likely and have long been interested in studying this hypothesis.

    #5791
    kate green
    kate green
    Participant

    ooh this is a neat line of research. my young (just shy of 3yo) border collie x australian cattle dog shows a fear of novelty (she’s also very wary of dogs with pricked ears, especially if they are white, have blue eyes or stare at her). she also guards me and i am HER human. i’ve had her since she was 13 weeks old and worked hard to socialize her since we do agility together. despite my best efforts, she has these issues. they cause me a bit of management trouble when we’re out and about.

    i’m sure there are many factors in this (including me!), but the genetic component is interesting to me. i wonder if the more wolf-like a dog is, the shorter these critical periods are. certainly she wouldn’t be the first wary cattle dog, and indeed i’d say she’s more cattle dog than BC between her ears.

    #5792
    stephanie paladino
    stephanie paladino
    Participant

    Is there a new survey since December of 2017? I’ve completed 15. Also, I’ve sent a couple of inquiries about redoing one or two early surveys that I filled out based on my dog’s old age condition rather than her lifelong condition, and therefore include erroneous info. Haven’t heard back though!

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