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Scent work improves dog behaviour, research reveals
The tasks tested the dogs' inhibitory control, which improves dogs' problem-solving skills.
Dogs with scent training showed improved mental ability.

A new study has suggested that scent training could improve pet dogs’ abilities to complete cognitive tasks.

The research, conducted by scientists at Aberystwyth University, found that dogs trained to detect smells had an improved mental ability and better capacity to perform tasks.

Previous research had found that dogs with advanced training, such as assistance dogs, had a better mental ability than untrained pet dogs. However, it did not explore how training pet dogs may advance their ability to complete cognitive tasks.

This study aimed to explore how simpler, pet dog training could also affect dogs’ behaviours.

The research team assessed how well 40 dogs, trained to various levels, performed in two tasks that tested their impulse control.

Their first task was a ‘detour task’, which confronted the dogs with a transparent barrier between them and a bowl of food. The dog then needed to navigate a detour around the barrier to reach the food.

The second task was the ‘A-not-B’ task. This involved three plant pot covers being placed in front of the dog, with food being visibly placed under one of them. Without prompts, the dog then needed to remember which cover had food underneath it.

Dogs which had received scent training were found to perform better at the tasks than those which hadn’t. This suggested that this additional training had helped their impulse control to complete specific tasks.

The tasks were designed to test the dogs’ inhibitory control, which has been proven to improve dogs’ problem-solving skills.

This can also link to dogs’ behaviour, as poor impulse control can be linked to unwanted behaviours like inappropriate toileting or destructive behaviour.

Dr Sarah Dalesman, co-supervisor of the project, said: “This research shows that dogs that train primarily in scent work have stronger inhibitory control, suggesting that this training can have a positive effect on their behaviour.

“Scent training is offered by a lot of dog trainers, and easy to practice at home. It might offer a great way for owners to improve their pet’s behaviour, and we’re aiming to test this theory in future studies.”

The full study can be found in the journal Animals.

Image © Shutterstock

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Special imports digital service set to change

News Story 1
 From Monday, 15 July, Special Import Certificate (SIC) applications will only be accepted via the Veterinary Medicines Directorate's (VMD's) new special imports digital service.

The original online special import scheme will be decommissioned. The VMD says that the new service is easier to use, more secure and reliable, and meets accessibility legislation.

The VMD is urging veterinary surgeons who have not yet signed up for the new service to do so before 15 July. The new digital service can be accessed here

Click here for more...
News Shorts
RCVS course explains concerns process

A free, online course from the RCVS Academy has been launched, designed to clarify RCVS' concerns procedure.

The content will give veterinary surgeons and veterinary nurses a better understanding of the process, and what they can expect if a concern is raised about them. It includes details of common concerns.

The interactive resource has been developed in collaboration with Clare Stringfellow, case manager in the RCVS Professional Conduct Team.

Ms Stringfellow said: "We appreciate that concerns can be very worrying, and we hope that, through this course, we can give vets and nurses a better understanding of the process and how to obtain additional support."

The course can be accessed via the RCVS Academy. Users are encouraged to record their learning for CPD.