MRI’s help determine which dogs will fail assistance dog training

A unique study conducted by researcher Gregory Berns at Emory University found that functional MRI’s can help determine which dogs will successfully pass assistance dog training.

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The fMRI shows the researchers which dogs are likely to fail and why. Although all the dogs appeared calm and therefore prime candidates for training, the fMRI showed that some dogs had a higher level of activity in the amygdala which is the area of the brain that is associated with excitability. These dogs were more likely to fail assistance dog training.

The fMRI allowed the researchers to predict, with a success rate of 67%, up from 47% which dogs would not succeed in the training program.

This method of predicting which dog can succeed is not something the average dog trainer can use due to the cost. However, in the case of assistance dogs trained at Canine Companions for Independence in Santa Rosa, CA, it helps a great deal because the cost of training a dog ranges from $20,000 to $50,000 and as many as 70% of the dogs in the program fail.

The MRI is a painless way to analyze the dogs. They are taught how to remain still while getting the MRI so no drugs or restraints are used.

Hopefully in the future, the cost of testing the dogs will be within reach of dog trainers so that other types of service and working dogs be tested before they are trained.

www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/03/170307100455.htm

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