A company called Canine Companions for Independence (CCI) in California, USA has been involved in a study designed to identify which dogs are the most likely to pass support dog training by scanning their brains.
Training support dogs is very expensive and although the puppies are chosen based on traits that lend themselves well to training for support, a large number of dogs are eventually rejected from the program due to behavioural issues.
By scanning the dogs brains, the scientists are able to analyze the size of the amygdala (the part of the brain that is linked to being excitable) and what they are finding is that dogs which on the surface seem very calm but have a more active amygdala, are the ones who tend to end up failing the rigorous training process.
This new technique is designed to save money that would have been spent on training dogs that will not become support animals, and that money can then go back into the training program and help the dogs that are more likely to pass. This could have a very positive effect on the number of dogs that complete the training and thus reduce the waiting lists for support dogs.
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