Quantitative Method to Assess Acute Stress Related Behavior in Dogs by Using Motion Capture Technology
Animal therapy is a form of healthcare intervention conducted with the aid of therapy animals, most commonly dogs. For a therapy dog to play an active role in animal therapy, an animal therapist must design a therapy program, which does not place the dog under stress. Generally, a dog’s stress can be evaluated by observing its behavior. However, existing ethological evaluation indices of stress behavior are subjective and obscure, and discrimination between dogs’ stress behaviors is difficult for observers with insufficient experience. Thus, we propose to quantitatively evaluate behaviors associated with acute stress in dogs. We quantified dog’s behavior by using a motion capture system. Specifically, body and ear postures such as the “opening degree of left and right ears,” “anteroposterior tilt of left and right ears,” “height of the vertex above the floor,” “height of the center of gravity above the floor,” and “angle between the lateral axis of the body and the floor” were recorded using nine motion capture markers. During the experiments, a canine subject was acutely stressed using a tail clamp, and the dog’s posture while under stress was quantitatively distinguished from non-stress postures via quadratic discrimination analysis (QDA). From the results, we distinguished the dog’s body and ears postures while under acute stress from those under non-stressed conditions with 81% sensitivity and 93% specificity, and a quantitative evaluation of the dog’s acute stress behavior was carried out.
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