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. 2018 Mar 13;8(1):4421.
doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-22605-1.

Development and Validation of the Canine Reward Responsiveness Scale -Examining Individual Differences in Reward Responsiveness of the Domestic Dog

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Free PMC article

Development and Validation of the Canine Reward Responsiveness Scale -Examining Individual Differences in Reward Responsiveness of the Domestic Dog

Linda Gerencsér et al. Sci Rep. .
Free PMC article

Abstract

Although there is ample data indicating that reward processing plays an important role in human psychopathologies and pharmaco- and psychotherapy treatment response, the corresponding animal-model research needs to be extended to models whose motivational and social dispositions are better generalizable than those of the traditional models. Accordingly, our aim was to develop and assess the reliability and validity of an owner-report rating scale of reward responsiveness in domestic dogs (N = 2149) and then to examine individual differences in reward responsiveness. Responsiveness was categorisable by reward type (ball/toy and food) and exhibited individual variability manifesting in age- and breed-related differences. Rating scale scores were associated with behavioural observation of reward processing, indicating evidence of convergent validity. Ball/toy and food reward responsiveness were associated with owner-rated hyperactivity-impulsivity' inattention and with differences in training, indicating evidence of concurrent validity. Extreme (vs. average) reward responsiveness was also predicted by dogs' hyperactivity-impulsivity and inattention' and extreme responsiveness was associated with increased likelihood of physical health and/or social problems. These findings are informative with regard to the dog as an animal model for various human behavioural and cognitive functions' and also for the dog in its own right as they are relevant to training and welfare.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare no competing interests.

Figures

Figure 1
Figure 1
Estimated Marginal Means of Ball/toy (a) and Food (b) responsiveness and Hyperactivity at Levels of Increase in motivation (IM). (a) Greater Hyperactivity in combination with greater Ball/toy responsiveness are associated with greater Increases in motivation. (b) Greater Hyperactivity in combination with greater Food responsiveness are not associated with greater Increases in motivation. The different lines stand for the three different levels of IM; dashed with triangles: mean, solid with rectangles: mean + 1 SD, dashed with circles: mean − 1 SD.
Figure 2
Figure 2
Estimated Marginal Means of Ball/toy (a) and Food (b) responsiveness at levels of Training method. (a) A negative relationship between Inattention and Ball/toy responsiveness was seen in all dogs but the strength of this relationship varied depending on Training method. The strongest negative association between Inattention and Ball/toy responsiveness was observed in dogs who were rewarded by ball/toy or social reinforcement (as shown in red – ‘play &/or social rew’), then in dogs rewarded by food and ball/toy (as shown in green – ‘food & play rew’), and the weakest in dogs rewarded by food only (as shown in blue – ‘food rew’). (b) There were no differences in the direction or magnitude of association between Inattention and Food responsiveness given the type of reward dogs received during training (i.e. training method). As for training method types, ball/toy or social reinforcement is shown in red (play &/or social rew), reinforcement by food and ball/toy is shown in green (food & play rew), and reinforcement by food reward only is shown in blue (food rew).
Figure 3
Figure 3
Estimated Marginal Means of Ball/toy (a) and Food (b) responsiveness and Reward frequency at Levels of Increase in motivation (IM). (a) At increasing levels of IM, greater Reward frequency (RF) corresponded to greater Ball/toy responsiveness. (b) At increasing levels of IM, greater RF contributed to lower Food responsiveness. The different lines stand for the three different levels of IM; dashed with triangles: mean, solid with rectangles: mean + 1 SD, dashed with circles: mean – 1 SD.
Figure 4
Figure 4
Differences in Toy/object attachment between dogs average and extreme on Ball/toy and/or Food responsiveness. Dogs high on Ball/toy and low on Food responsiveness (HTR) had higher scores than dogs in the other groups, except for dogs high on both Ball/toy and Food responsiveness (HTFR) or dogs average on Ball/toy and Food responsiveness (ATFR, i.e., average on reward responsiveness) on Toy/object attachment. Dogs high on both Ball/toy and Food responsiveness (HTFR) scored higher than dogs average on reward responsiveness (ATFR). The error bars represent +/− 2 SE.
Figure 5
Figure 5
Differences in health problems due to excessive food (a) and ball/toy (b) reward pursuing between dogs average and extreme on Ball/toy and/or Food responsiveness. (a) Dogs low on both Ball/toy and Food responsiveness (LTFR) were rated lower than dogs low on Ball/toy and high on Food responsiveness (HFR) and dogs high on both Ball/toy and Food responsiveness (HTFR) on health problems due to excessive food reward pursuing. The HFR group was rated as having more eating-related health problems than dogs high on Ball/toy and low on Food responsiveness (HTR), while there was no difference between dogs low on Ball/toy and high on Food responsiveness (HFR) and dogs high on both Ball/toy and Food responsiveness (HTFR) or dogs average on reward responsiveness (ATFR) on health problems due to excessive food reward pursuing. (b) Dogs high on Ball/toy and low on Food responsiveness (HTR) were rated higher than dogs low on Ball/toy and high on Food responsiveness (HFR), HTR dogs did not differ from dogs high on both Ball/toy and Food responsiveness (HTFR), while the latter were rated higher than dogs average on reward responsiveness (ATFR) on health problems due to excessive ball/toy reward pursuing. The error bars represent +/−2 SE.
Figure 6
Figure 6
Differences in social problems due to excessive food (a) and ball/toy (b) reward pursuing between dogs average and extreme on Food and/or Ball/toy responsiveness. (a) Dogs high on Ball/toy and low on Food responsiveness (HTR) were rated lower than both dogs low on Ball/toy and high on Food responsiveness (HFR) and dogs high on both Ball/toy and Food responsiveness (HTFR) on social problems due to excessive food reward pursuing. The HFR group did not differ from the HTFR group but was rated higher than dogs average on reward responsiveness (ATFR), and the HTFR group was rated also higher than the average group on social problems due to excessive food reward pursuing. (b) Dogs high on Ball/toy and low on Food responsiveness (HTR) received higher scores than both dogs low on Ball/toy and high on Food responsiveness (HFR) and dogs average on reward responsiveness (ATFR) but did not differ from dogs high on both Ball/toy and Food responsiveness (HTFR). The HTFR group were rated higher than average dogs on social problems due to excessive ball/toy reward pursuing. The error bars represent +/−2 SE.

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