The Impact of Signalment and Body Conformation on Activity Monitoring in Companion Dogs
ACVIM 2008
D.C. Brown; K.E. Michel; M. Love; C. Dow
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA, USA

An objective method for recording activity could be useful for assessing the behavior of companion dogs in their everyday environment as many of these behaviors have to do with the dogs' level of activity. The Actical Activity Monitor (AAM) is a sensitive, watch-sized, accelerometer that continuously measures the intensity, frequency and duration of movement for extended periods. Our objective was to describe the impact of signalment and body conformation on activity monitoring using the AAM in companion dogs.

At least 20 dogs were recruited in each of 5 weight ranges. Signalment and seven body conformation measurements were recorded. While wearing an AAM, each dog was led through a series of standardized activities: lying down, walking laps and trotting laps. In addition, our hypothesis was that a dog's age and body conformation could influence the outcome of activity monitoring during an activity that is less controlled, therefore all dogs were trotted up and down stairs permitting each dog to adjust its stride between steps. Linear regression analysis was used to determine which signalment or body conformation factors were associated with the AAM activity counts.

Data was collected on 104 dogs. There was no significant impact of signalment or body conformation on activity counts recorded during lying down, walking laps, and trotting laps. However, when trotting up and down stairs, there was a significant impact of age and bodyweight such that, for every 1 kg increase in bodyweight, there is a 1.9% decrease in average activity counts and for every 1 year increase in age, there is a 4.1% decrease in average activity counts.

When the activity is well controlled, there is no significant impact of signalment or body conformation on the average activity counts recorded by the AAM. However, when dogs are allowed leeway in the extent of effort exerted within an activity, older dogs and larger dogs will deliver lower average activity counts than younger and smaller dogs and so these factors will need to be considered in studies using these monitors as an outcome.

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Kathryn Michel, DVM, MS, DACVN
University of Pennsylvania
Philidelphia, PA

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