Published:  2003

Ambulatory monitoring of cardiovascular responses during behavioral modification of an aggressive dog

Authors:  Nancy G. Williams, Peter L. Borchelt, John J. Sollers, Peter W. Gasper, Julian F. Thayer

Tags:  Acceleration, Aggression, Animals, Behavior Therapy, Dogs, Electrocardiography, Ambulatory, Female, Heart Rate, Monitoring, Ambulatory, Movement, Physical Stimulation, Respiratory Mechanics, Restraint, Physical, Transducers

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Previous work from our lab has used the Dutch Ambulatory Monitoring System (AMS) to assess the cardiovascular responses and motility of large free-ranging species (e.g. horses). To further examine the utility of using the AMS with non-humans, a study investigating the heart rate (HR) and heart period variability (HRV) of a large canine undergoing behavioral modification therapy was undertaken. This treatment emulated a restraint and tactile pressure technique that has previously been used in horses. Cardiovascular responses and motility were continuously measured pre-treatment (exposure to a stimulus dog), during treatment (in-box), and post-treatment. The treatment consisted of placing the dog in a 110 cm (long) by 45 cm (wide) by 102 cm (height) wooden box that only covered the animals’ torso and legs and allowed the head to be free. Once the dog was in the box, the body was covered with a lightweight material (grain product) to effect restraint and tactile pressure, which was followed by a repeat exposure to the stimulus animal. Results indicated decreased heart rate and an increased HRV during the intervention as compared to baseline with indices of motility changing in the expected directions. Estimates of respiratory frequency derived from the autoregressive spectral analysis indicated changes in respiration did not account for the cardiovascular effects. In conclusion, tactile pressure and restraint may be an important tool for behavioral modification in both humans and animals, and the AMS is a useful tool for collecting cardiovascular data on a variety of species in a great many contexts.