Honors Program


Date of this Version

Spring 3-9-2021

Document Type



Herridge, M. 2021. Owner perception of impulsivity in dogs and implementation of a spatial choice task for evaluation. Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska- Lincoln.


Copyright Megan Herridge 2021.


Dogs are versatile animals with the potential to be trained to complete a variety of tasks, so long as they have the appropriate temperament. Impulsivity in dogs is the tendency for the animals to make decisions without thinking, and this can hinder the training process. If there was a way to accurately determine the level of impulsivity in a dog, it could be possible to select ideal candidates to fulfill specific roles with greater success in training. This study serves as a replication of the impulsivity and spatial discounting studies performed by Mongillo et al. and Brady et al. in 2019 and 2018 respectively. A dog owner’s survey containing questions addressing the DIAS scale of impulsivity (as defined by Wright et al. in 2012) , prior training experience, and the presence of separation anxiety in a dog has been combined with a spatial choice test to determine the accuracy of owner perception as an indicator of canine impulsivity. Correlation tests were performed between the maximum distance traveled by the dogs in the spatial choice task and age, impulsivity score, and CBARQ training score. Independent samples t-tests were performed comparing the sex of the dog and presence of separation anxiety with the maximum distance traveled in the spatial choice task. There was no strong correlation found between the variables examined and the impulsivity or performance of the dog. The results of this analysis are in the preliminary stages due to a small sample size and the study will be continued in the future to obtain statistically significant results and clearer conclusions.