Ever heard of Canine Behavioral Genetics?

From their website,

Canine Behavioral Genetics Project is a collaboration between Dr. Steven Hamilton of the University of California, San Francisco and Dr. Karen Overall of the University of Pennsylvania. The goals of this project are:

To explore the relationship between genes and behavior, both normal and abnormal, in domestic dogs.

To assess the amount and nature of genetic diversity in domestic dogs, both within and between breeds.

Our project is currently recruiting participants and collecting DNA samples from both purebred and mixed-breed dogs. Specifically, w e are looking for:

Behaviorally affected dogs: Dogs that suffer or appear to suffer from panic, fear, anxiety, compulsive behaviors, and aggression. Examples of such behaviors include (but are not limited to) separation anxiety, noise phobias, fears of people, places, or other dogs, and aggression toward people or other dogs.

Family members of behaviorally affected dogs: Members of a known, accessible family (including siblings, parents, grandparents, etc.) related to one or more behaviorally affected dogs. Pedigrees, if available, are highly useful to this research, although not necessary for participation.

Non-behaviorally affected dogs: Dogs that do not display any anxiety related behaviors are welcome to participate in this study. These dogs are necessary for a comparative sample, as well as to assess diversity and population structure both within and between breeds.”

Now, recently, their work was highlight in an SF weekly article titled, “Psycho Dogs – What makes canines go crazy? The answer is in their genes.”

This study is really interesting cos by studying dogs and their DNA who has been selectively bred by humans for hundreds of years for selected traits and behaviours, behavioral genes can be identified. Importantly and specifically, genes that cause behavioural problems such a noise phobia, agression, OED behaviours and such can be identified. And the results in this study may also be a breakthrough for human genetics studies to understand human genes as well.

I have been aware of this study that has been going on and am glad to have some findings on it. Afterall, sometimes it is the genetic makeup that caused problems. Though i believe that understand and positive training helps at well.

The article also speaks of Solo, a beautiful red border collie owned by one of the researchers, Dr. Melanie Chang.


(Picture by Dr. Melanie Chang)

Before Melanie, Solo was placed/rehomed 5 times… and when he got to Melanie’s, she was his last hope. He had severe seperation anxiety, amist other problems.. however, with medication, training and reinforcement, Solo has achieved much over the years! Getting his CGC, going for sheep trails and even getting his agility title! I must say,”Kudos to Melanie and all her hard work and love.. and most importantly for not giving up on Solo!”

I’m glad that there are people out there who are trying to understand us and believes in giving us a second chance, and most importantly, for loving us.

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