The Affect of Vertical Nursing on Cognitive Test Scores in 8-Week-Old Puppies
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThe Maternal Styles project is following the nursing patterns of 60 damsand their puppies, through the first three weeks of life.Thus far, 10 dams have been analyzed and are included in this thesis.In each litter, four puppies were chosen at random to observe the differences in vertical nursing. Vertical nursing, which encompasses standing, sitting, and back nursing, is less common than horizontal nursing, and appears to have far-reaching consequences on puppycognitive taskslater in life. For each litter, one 24-hour period was analyzed from week one, two, and three to determine the amount of time dams and pups spent vertically nursing. Additionally, the four study puppies from each litter were tested at 8 weeks old ona battery of cognitive tasks that are deemed useful for assessing their success as assistance dogs for Canine Companions for Independence (CCI).First, I analyzed the factors that could potentially affect vertical nursing –time post-whelp, breed, parity, raise location, and litter size. Of these variables, only time post-whelp was related to levels of vertical nursing. Second, I analyzed if the time spent vertical nursing predicted puppy performance at 8weeksold on cognitive and temperament tasks. I did not find evidence supporting a relationship between vertical nursing and performance on the majority of cognitive tasks. However, the data did suggest a positive association between vertical nursing andseveral measures of human preference, suggesting a possible relationship between nursing style and independence at 8 weeks old. Specifically, puppies who spent more time vertical nursing were subsequently less interested in the human experimenter. This trait might be useful in predicting the success ofassistance dogs within CCI. Further research, with the complete sample of 60, should offer more insight into the strength of these claims.
Degree ProgramVeterinary Science