Assistance dogs are trained to accompany anyone with a visual, hearing, motor or mental disability. But some doggies are more suited to this mission than others. British and American researchers have created an innovative tool to help trainers spot them.
Scientists from the University of East London and the University of Pennsylvania have developed an artificial intelligence algorithm that assesses a dog’s personality. This tool is based on data from nearly 8,000 canine behavior assessment and research questionnaires (C-BARQ). For more than 20 years, this test has been a reference in the evaluation of potential working dogs.
But some of the 100 questions that make up the C-BARQ are subjective, which can bias the questionnaire results. Artificial intelligence can remedy this problem by “adjusting for aberrant responses,” as explained by James Serpell, professor emeritus of ethics and animal welfare at the university’s School of Veterinary Medicine. of Pennsylvania, in a press release.
The algorithm designed by Professor James Serpell and his colleagues groups the results of the C-BARQ into five main categories, namely “excitable/attached”, “anxious/fearful”, “distant/predatory”, “reactive/assertive” and “calm/pleasant”. These categories give an idea of a dog’s personality and, therefore, its professional potential.
Because assistance dogs must be able to perform different actions and adapt to any environment to help their master on a daily basis. They must be patient and have good stress management. This is why trainers favor calm dogs, which are quite docile in nature. A dog with a strong character will be much more difficult to train.
The researchers are convinced of the potential of their canine personality testing algorithm, although they believe they still need to do more research. “(It) could become an effective tool in the selection and training of working dogs, but not only“, they write in an article, published in the journal Nature.
Indeed, if this AI software was designed to facilitate the selection of future assistance dogs, it could also be used in shelters to reduce the probability that adoption families reconsider their choice because they do not don’t get along with their new little companion.