Tag Archives: Border Collies

Inhibitory control in dogs

Inhibitory control may be an indicator of a dog’s ability to solve a problem, according to a study published February 10, 2016 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE.

Playing with objects may help dogs learn about their environment, similar to how it helps human infants. Scientists think dogs’ inhibitory control, or the ability to inhibit or regulate attentional or emotional responses, may play a role in their individual differences in physical problem-solving task performance.

Wait for it border collie

A Border Collie during the wait-for-treat task.Credit Clever Dog Lab/Vetmeduni Vienna

The authors of this study investigated the effects of pet dogs’ experiences interacting with the physical environment and their individual differences in inhibitory control on their physical problem-solving ability. A cohort of ~40 pet Border Collie dogs were assigned to three different conditions, and tested in an intensive series of inhibitory control tasks, such as wait-for-treat, and cognitive measures, such as size constancy over a period of 18 months.

The authors found that differences in previous object-related experiences do not explain variability in performance in problem solving tasks. Depending on the cognitive task, inhibitory control had a positive or a negative effect on performance and turned out to be the best predictors of individual performance in the different tasks.

The authors think that dogs likely do not transfer knowledge about physical rules from one physical problem-solving task to another, but rather approach each task as a novel problem. In addition, individual performance in these tasks may be influenced by the subject’s level of inhibitory control. The authors suggest that studying the interplay between inhibitory control and problem-solving performance may make an important contribution to our understanding of individual and species differences in physical problem-solving performance.

Journal article may be found here.

Source:  EurekAlert! media release

Border collies patrol at airports

In today’s Christchurch Press, comes news that Christchurch Airport has employed its first Border Collie, Jet, to scare away geese and other birds from the runway areas.

14-week old Jet, Christchurch Airport's newest employee, will undergo training to get her used to the noisy runways at the airport (Photo by The Press)

14-week old Jet, Christchurch Airport’s newest employee, will undergo training to get her used to the noisy runways at the airport (Photo by The Press)

Bird strike is a major hazard for modern aviation.  Bird strike was the cause of the engine failure on US Airways Flight 1549 in 2009, for example.  That plane landed safely in New York’s Hudson River in what was called the “Miracle on the Hudson.”  Bird strike can also cause damage to aircraft windscreens and fuselages, not just engines.

Jet’s arrival in Christchurch is a first for New Zealand but Border Collies have been patrolling airports in other countries for many years.

Birds view the dogs as natural predators and so, where they may become accustomed to other scare tactics like sirens, the birds will always be wary of being chased by a dog.

Airports that use Border Collie patrols include Southwest Florida International Airport, Vancouver International Airport, New Bedford Regional Airport (Massachusetts), Dover Air Force Base (US Air Force), Ramat David Air Force Base (Israel), Cold Lake Air Force Base (Canada), and Augusta Regional Airport (Georgia).

A Border Collie at the Southwest International Airport in Fort Myers, Fla. By Marc Beaudin, The (Ft. Myers, Fla.) News-Press

A Border Collie at the Southwest International Airport in Fort Myers, Fla.
By Marc Beaudin, The (Ft. Myers, Fla.) News-Press

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Diagnosis and treatment of bladder cancer in dogs

Veterinary researchers at Oregon State University have identified a unique group of proteins that indicate the presence of transitional cell carcinoma – the most common cause of bladder cancer – and may lead to a new assay which could better diagnose this disease in both dogs and humans.

Photo by Shay Bracha, Oregon State University

Photo by Shay Bracha, Oregon State University

Sheepdogs, collies, and terriers seem particularly susceptible to this type of cancer.  By the time the cancer is diagnosed, it is usually too late to save the dog’s life.

An improved assay to detect this serious disease much earlier in both animals and humans should be possible, scientists said, and may even become affordable enough that it could be used as an over-the-counter product to test urine, much like a human pregnancy test. Some of the work may also contribute to new therapies, they said.

“Research of this type should first help us develop a reliable assay for this cancer in dogs, and improve the chance the disease can be caught early enough that treatments are effective,” said Shay Bracha, an assistant professor in the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine.

Source:  Oregon State University media statement


A new use for Border Collies

Researchers from Central Michigan University presented their research at the annual meeting of the American Society for Microbiology this week.

They’ve found that Border Collies are effective at reducing seagull congregation on recreational beaches, resulting in lower E. coli abundance in the sand

A Border Collie on beach patrol, photo by Elizabeth Alm

A Border Collie on beach patrol, photo by Elizabeth Alm

Gull droppings may be one source of the indicator bacterium Escherichia coli to beach water, which can lead to swim advisories and beach closings. In addition, gull droppings may contain bacteria with the potential to cause human disease, according to Elizabeth Alm, one of the researchers on the study.

At the beginning of the summer, 200-meter sections of beach were arbitrarily assigned to be dog-treated beaches or control beaches. Half way through the summer, the beach sections were swapped, so that dogs were moved to the control beaches and the dog-treated beaches were then left to be untreated controls.

During the summers of 2012 and 2013, researchers recorded the number of gulls at each beach section. Once each week samples of beach water and beach sand were collected and the numbers of E. coli in the samples counted. In early summer, samples from beaches where dogs had excluded gulls had significantly lower E. coli counts compared to control beaches.

“Border collies are intelligent dogs that love to work and could be used by beach managers as part of a comprehensive management strategy to reduce bacterial contamination at public beaches,” said Alm.

Source:  American Society for Microbiology media release