• Combining actigraph link and petpace collar data to measure activity, proximity, and physiological responses in freely moving dogs in a natural environment

      Ortmeyer, H.K.; Robey, L.; McDonald, T. (MDPI AG, 2018)
      Although several studies have examined the effects of an owner's absence and presence on a dog's physiological responses under experimental conditions over short periods of time (minutes), little is known about the effects of proximity between humans and freely moving dogs under natural conditions over longer periods of time (days). The first aim of our study was to determine whether the combined data generated from the PetPace Collar and Actigraph Link accelerometer provide reliable pulse, respiration, and heart rate variability results during sedentary, light-moderate, and vigorous bouts in 11 freely moving dogs in a foster caretaker environment over 10-15 days. The second aim was to determine the effects of proximity (absence and presence of caretaker) and distance (caretaker and dog within 0-2 m) on the dogs' physiological responses. Aim 1 results: Pulse and respiration were higher during light-moderate bouts compared to sedentary bouts, and higher at rest while the dogs were standing and sitting vs. lying. Heart rate variability (HRV) was not different between activity levels or position. Aim 2 results: During sedentary bouts, pulse and respiration were higher, and HRV lower, when there was a proximity signal (caretaker present) compared to no proximity signal (caretaker absent). Using multiple regression models, we found that activity, position, distance, and signal presence were predictors of physiological response in individual dogs during sedentary bouts. Our results suggest that combining data collected from Actigraph GT9X and PetPace monitors will provide useful information, both collectively and individually, on dogs' physiological responses during activity, in various positions, and in proximity to their human caretaker. © 2018 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.