For people with certain disabilities, such as vision impairment, hearing loss, mobility problems, or mental illness, service dogs are invaluable companions. They assist with navigation, answering the door, picking up objects, and other daily tasks that a patient might struggle with alone. But training puppies for service is expensive, in part because approximately seventy percent of them won’t complete the stringent schooling. Service dogs must have an exceptionally calm temperament and while the calmest candidate pups are chosen, some ultimately turn out to be too excitable for the task. Researchers have now discovered a way to identify those pups with the highest chance of success. Brain scans revealed that dogs with lower activity in the amygdala – a region associated with excitability – were more likely to prevail. Determining who’s top dog in this way could ultimately save money and time, meaning patients get the four-legged help they need more readily.
Written by Ruth Williams
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