Measuring attention deficit and activity in dogs: A new application and validation of a human ADHD questionnaire

Judit Vas, József Topál, Éva Péch, Ádám Miklósi

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71 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Recently more evidence has been found that the dog could serve as a viable model for studying the evolutionary emergence and regulating mechanisms of human behaviour. This approach is of especial importance when someone wants to study the underlying mechanisms of such human behaviour disorders like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Using questionnaires is a widely accepted methodology in this field of human behaviour research and recently many reported parallel observations also on dogs (e.g. questionnaire analysis of temperament traits). However, the handicap of this line of studies is, that the psychometric properties (validity) of the animal questionnaires were rarely examined, therefore, the reliability of this methodology remains uncertain. In the present paper a 13-item questionnaire assessing attention skills, impulsivity and motor activity in pet dogs was developed on the basis of a validated one used for evaluating ADHD related problems in children. The primary purpose of this study was to measure reliability and validity of the questionnaire in order to introduce a new method for studying behaviour problems related to attention skills and the levels of activity/impusivity in pet dogs. The owners of a pet dog population (N = 220) of many different breeds (69) were involved in the study and the sample was balanced for the dogs' age, gender and training/qualification. Internal and external validity of the questionnaire were analysed and results supported the relevance of the two subscales predetermined from the items of the questionnaire (inattention and activity-impulsivity). Comparisons of the inattention and activity-impulsivity scores of the different age-, gender- and training-groups showed significant effects of age and training on the attention skills in the dogs. Findings suggest that the application of human ADHD questionnaire (dog-ADHD rating scale) is a reliable and valid method of assessing attention skills and activity in dogs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-117
Number of pages13
JournalApplied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume103
Issue number1-2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2007

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Keywords

  • ADHD
  • Activity
  • Dog
  • Questionnaire
  • Validity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Animals
  • Animal Science and Zoology

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