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Validity of the Socially Acceptable Behavior (SAB) test as a measure of aggression in dogs towards non-familiar humans

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Abstract
For many years dog aggression has been a matter of concern for the authorities and dog breeding groups. In order to assess aggressive tendencies in dogs, an aggression test was developed (Netto and Planta, 1997). This test consisted of 43 subtests, had to be performed in an indoor enclosure and lasted for approximately 45 minutes per dog. It seemed impossible to use this test for a large population, therefore the Dutch Kennel Club (Raad van Beheer) asked the first author to develop a shorter version of this test that preferably should be performed outdoors. The test, called the Socially Acceptable Behavior test (SAB test), consists of only 16 subtests and is performed outdoors. The definition of aggressive biting during the test includes not only aggressive bites or snaps, but also aggressive attacks in which the dog makes a lunge in an attempt to bite, which fails because it has reached the end of its leash. In this article the validity of the test for aggressive biting behavior is examined by analyzing the data for 330 dogs. To do so, a comparison was made between the test result and the aggressive biting behavior of the dogs prior to the test, as reported by the owners and confirmed by behavioral consultants. The correspondence between the history of biting and the aggressive biting behavior during the test is 82%, when no aggressive biting behavior at all is considered acceptable. When the aggressive biting behavior is allowed in maximum one of 8 specified subtests, in biting behavior is allowed in maximum one of 8 specified, the correspondence raises to 88%, and of the 27 false negatives (28.7%) 18 dogs performed only territorial aggression prior to the test. In the second phase, the predictability of aggressive biting behavior towards people, as shown in the test, is calculated by comparing the test results of 220 dogs with the aggressive biting behavior of these dogs shown in a period of at least 1 year after the test, as reported by the owners. The predictability is 81.8%. The test can be considered to predict in a statistically significant way the occurrence of future aggressive biting behavior of dogs towards unfamiliar people in a non-territorial context in the first year after the test. The existence of false negative results means that the assumption that a dog that passes the test will never bite later is not correct, as aggression is often very contextual. The value of the individual test is that it supplements the other evaluation methods in terms of behavioral consultation and risk evaluation. Further investigation is necessary to compare a dog's individual result to its behavior over a longer period later in life and to investigate the use of the test as a tool in breeding programs.
Keywords
PET, PREVENTION, QUESTIONNAIRE, ANIMAL SHELTERS

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Citation

Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:

MLA
Planta, J.U.D., and Rudy De Meester. “Validity of the Socially Acceptable Behavior (SAB) Test as a Measure of Aggression in Dogs Towards Non-familiar Humans.” VLAAMS DIERGENEESKUNDIG TIJDSCHRIFT 76.5 (2007): 359–368. Print.
APA
Planta, J. U. D., & De Meester, R. (2007). Validity of the Socially Acceptable Behavior (SAB) test as a measure of aggression in dogs towards non-familiar humans. VLAAMS DIERGENEESKUNDIG TIJDSCHRIFT, 76(5), 359–368.
Chicago author-date
Planta, J.U.D., and Rudy De Meester. 2007. “Validity of the Socially Acceptable Behavior (SAB) Test as a Measure of Aggression in Dogs Towards Non-familiar Humans.” Vlaams Diergeneeskundig Tijdschrift 76 (5): 359–368.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Planta, J.U.D., and Rudy De Meester. 2007. “Validity of the Socially Acceptable Behavior (SAB) Test as a Measure of Aggression in Dogs Towards Non-familiar Humans.” Vlaams Diergeneeskundig Tijdschrift 76 (5): 359–368.
Vancouver
1.
Planta JUD, De Meester R. Validity of the Socially Acceptable Behavior (SAB) test as a measure of aggression in dogs towards non-familiar humans. VLAAMS DIERGENEESKUNDIG TIJDSCHRIFT. 2007;76(5):359–68.
IEEE
[1]
J. U. D. Planta and R. De Meester, “Validity of the Socially Acceptable Behavior (SAB) test as a measure of aggression in dogs towards non-familiar humans,” VLAAMS DIERGENEESKUNDIG TIJDSCHRIFT, vol. 76, no. 5, pp. 359–368, 2007.
@article{744173,
  abstract     = {For many years dog aggression has been a matter of concern for the authorities and dog breeding groups. In order to assess aggressive tendencies in dogs, an aggression test was developed (Netto and Planta, 1997). This test consisted of 43 subtests, had to be performed in an indoor enclosure and lasted for approximately 45 minutes per dog. It seemed impossible to use this test for a large population, therefore the Dutch Kennel Club (Raad van Beheer) asked the first author to develop a shorter version of this test that preferably should be performed outdoors. The test, called the Socially Acceptable Behavior test (SAB test), consists of only 16 subtests and is performed outdoors. The definition of aggressive biting during the test includes not only aggressive bites or snaps, but also aggressive attacks in which the dog makes a lunge in an attempt to bite, which fails because it has reached the end of its leash. In this article the validity of the test for aggressive biting behavior is examined by analyzing the data for 330 dogs. To do so, a comparison was made between the test result and the aggressive biting behavior of the dogs prior to the test, as reported by the owners and confirmed by behavioral consultants. The correspondence between the history of biting and the aggressive biting behavior during the test is 82%, when no aggressive biting behavior at all is considered acceptable. When the aggressive biting behavior is allowed in maximum one of 8 specified subtests, in biting behavior is allowed in maximum one of 8 specified, the correspondence raises to 88%, and of the 27 false negatives (28.7%) 18 dogs performed only territorial aggression prior to the test.

In the second phase, the predictability of aggressive biting behavior towards people, as shown in the test, is calculated by comparing the test results of 220 dogs with the aggressive biting behavior of these dogs shown in a period of at least 1 year after the test, as reported by the owners. The predictability is 81.8%. The test can be considered to predict in a statistically significant way the occurrence of future aggressive biting behavior of dogs towards unfamiliar people in a non-territorial context in the first year after the test. The existence of false negative results means that the assumption that a dog that passes the test will never bite later is not correct, as aggression is often very contextual. The value of the individual test is that it supplements the other evaluation methods in terms of behavioral consultation and risk evaluation. Further investigation is necessary to compare a dog's individual result to its behavior over a longer period later in life and to investigate the use of the test as a tool in breeding programs.},
  author       = {Planta, J.U.D. and De Meester, Rudy},
  issn         = {0303-9021},
  journal      = {VLAAMS DIERGENEESKUNDIG TIJDSCHRIFT},
  keywords     = {PET,PREVENTION,QUESTIONNAIRE,ANIMAL SHELTERS},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {5},
  pages        = {359--368},
  title        = {Validity of the Socially Acceptable Behavior (SAB) test as a measure of aggression in dogs towards non-familiar humans},
  volume       = {76},
  year         = {2007},
}

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