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How does temperament and breed influence learned aversion training in domestic dogs

Taylor, Robyn (2017) How does temperament and breed influence learned aversion training in domestic dogs. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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Accidental poisoning of domestic dogs is an unfortunate occurrence when using poison baits to control introduced pests such as feral cats, red foxes, and wild dogs. This study aimed to investigate how dog breed (i.e., toy, terrier, sporting, domestic working and working dogs) and temperament influence aversion methods. Using non-poisonous baits and a device which emits a small electrical correction, domestic dogs were trained to avoid commercially-available non-toxic FoxOff® baits. Fifty-six dogs were recruited through online media services (e.g., Facebook). Each dog underwent four sessions of ‘one-on-one’ learned aversion training, spread across 6 weeks where individual dogs were subjected to a small electrical correction after having touched a non-toxic bait that has been attached to the training device and earthing rod (this created an electrical charged bait). Each dog’s behaviour, temperament and level of trainability were monitored during each session, based on temperament and behavioural test guidelines and procedures. Dog breeds were categorised based on their level of trainability; easy (i.e., only one to two training sessions and one to two repetitions of electrified baits during those sessions were required), moderate (i.e., only two to three training sessions and two to three repetitions of electrified baits during those training sessions were required), and difficult (i.e., all four training sessions and three repetitions of electrified baits during those four training sessions were required). The results indicated that 50 dogs were successfully trained to avoid the bait and that temperament and breed significantly influenced their level of trainability. Moreover, specific temperaments of obedience, excitability, playfulness and boldness were significantly related to each of the dog breeds respectively. Terriers were classified as having a difficult level of trainability; sporting and domestic working dogs displayed a moderate level of trainability, and working and toy dogs presented with easy levels of trainability based on their behavioural responses during the four training sessions. Furthermore, the temperament traits boldness (negatively correlated with trainability), fearfulness and anxiousness (positively correlated with trainability) significantly influenced dog trainability. This study demonstrated that learned aversion training with domestic and working dogs of different breeds and temperaments has future potential in relation to the development and implementation of practices involving learned aversion training methods for dogs.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Supervisor(s): Fleming, Trish and Kreplins, Tracey
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