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Field assessments of the health and welfare of kenneled dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) must be both accurate and rapid. In order to facilitate such evaluations, especially by individuals with limited training in canine behavior and welfare, a non-invasive tool was developed and pilot-tested utilizing dogs housed in commercial breeding facilities. Behavioral responses to approach were organized into three categories: red, indicating a fearful response to approach, green, indicating an affiliative or neutral response to approach, and yellow, indicating an ambivalent response to approach. The inter-rater reliability (IRR) of the tool when used by both behavioral experts and novice raters was evaluated with and without the presence of the dog’s familiar caretaker. Utilizing Cohen’s kappa, the experts had almost perfect levels of agreement (kappa=0.87). The novice raters had substantial levels of agreement (kappa=0.74). Overall, the dogs assessed by the novice raters had high proportions of green responses to approach and there was no statistically significant effect of caretaker presence on the proportion of green responses to approach. The assessment tool evaluated herein appears to have a high degree of IRR whether used by experts in canine behavior or by novice raters and may be a useful screening tool to determine the need for more in-depth welfare assessments.
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