Guide dogs for the blind help blind people physically and mentally in their daily lives. Their qualifications are based on health, working performance and temperament; approximately 70% of dogs that fail to qualify are disqualified for behavioral reasons. In order to achieve early prediction of qualification, it would be essential as the first step to identify important temperament traits for guide dogs. Therefore, we administered a questionnaire consisting of 22 temperament items to experienced trainers to assess candidate dogs at the Japan Guide Dog Association after three months of training, which was at least three months prior to the final success (qualified as a guide dog) or failure (disqualified for behavioral reasons) judgment. Factor analyses of question items stably extracted three factors with high internal consistency, Distraction, Sensitivity and Docility. When we compared factor points between successful dogs and failed dogs, the successful dogs showed significantly and consistently lower Distraction points and higher Docility points. Additionally, Distraction points could predict qualification with 80.6% accuracy and detect 28.2% of the failed dogs that had higher Distraction points than any of the successful dogs. Of the nine question items not included in the three factors, two items (`Aggression' and `Animal interest') were consistently associated with qualification. These results suggest that Distraction is stably assessable and has the strongest impact on success or failure judgment; therefore, it will be the first target to establish a behavioral test that may lead to early prediction of guide dog qualification.
2010 by the Japanese Society of Veterinary Science