Marking frequency during intraspecific socialization sessions is related to urinary cortisol levels in shelter dogs

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Daniela Alberghina
Gina Pumilia
Pierluigi Raffo
Giuseppe Distefano
Giuseppe Piccione
Michele Panzera

Abstract

The aim of this study was to determine whether behavioural indicators such as marking frequency and whether cortisol/creatinine ratio (C/Cr) are influenced by three socialization sessions.  Six adult shelter dogs were selected: Group 1 (n.3) with adequate social experience and Group 2 with behavioural problems of aggression against humans (n.2) and excessive fear response towards conspecifics (n.1). Spontaneous urine samples were collected for C/Cr after socialization sessions. C/Cr was positively correlated with urinary marking frequency (P<0.01) and negatively with faecal marking frequency (P<0.05). The correlation with urinary marking could be related to increased release of aldosterone under ACTH stimulus or to chemical information that dogs are in a stressful situation. The negative correlation with frequency of faecal marking could be related to inhibition of act in a novel situation as stress effect. Non-invasive monitoring for detection of cortisol could be useful to assess canine behaviour modulation following intraspecific socialization sessions.

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Conference Paper