Characterisation and management of frustration in the dog (Canis familiaris)

McPeake, Kevin (2020) Characterisation and management of frustration in the dog (Canis familiaris). PhD thesis, University of Lincoln.

Characterisation and management of frustration in the dog (Canis familiaris)
PhD Thesis
McPeake, Kevin - Animal Behaviour - November 2020.pdf - Whole Document

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Item Status:Live Archive


Frustration is a negative emotional state, arising when an individual is thwarted from
achieving a goal. In the human literature, frustration has been linked with anger and
aggression and a variety of psychometric scales have been developed to scale this affective
tendency at the trait level. The potential role of frustration within canine behaviour
problems has been highlighted within the veterinary behavioural medicine literature,
however the assessment of such frustration has historically been based on individual
personal evaluation. At the start of this thesis, existing published research was limited to
frustration-related behaviours reported in dogs in specific experimental settings.
The aim of this thesis was to develop a reliable and valid psychometric tool – the Canine
Frustration Questionnaire (CFQ) - for the quantification of trait level frustration tendencies
in dogs and explore the application of this tool in a clinical setting.
A series of three surveys was undertaken to gather expert opinion on canine frustration
from clinicians, ethologists and owners. The results of these informed the generation of
items capturing the trait of frustration which were formulated into a questionnaire for dog
owners. The questionnaire was disseminated electronically and was completed by 2346
owners. Reliability was established within the scale, with a high level of internal
consistency. Reliability was also established over repeated completion of the scale: intra-rater reliability over short (6 weeks) and long (1 year) time points; inter-rater reliability
assessed using two owners of the same dog. Following the removal of non-reliable items,
principal component analysis was used to generate a 21 item, five component solution
which could be interpreted biologically and demonstrated concurrent validity with
expected associations between the CFQ and a range of owner reported measures. Principal
components (PC) were labelled: PC1 ‘General frustration’; PC2 ‘Barrier
frustration/perseverance’; PC3 ‘Unmet expectations’; PC4 ‘Autonomous control’; and PC5
‘Frustration coping’.
In order to further assess the validity of the CFQ beyond owner reported measures, a
battery of behaviour tests was designed to elicit frustration, mapping on to the CFQ PCs
and items. A group of 44 dogs underwent the test battery and a range of behavioural and
physiological measures were collected, selected for their expected relationship with
frustration. Vocalising measures from the full test battery were associated with CFQ scores
providing evidence of convergent validity. Change in salivary cortisol levels pre- to post�test and absolute post-test levels were associated with CFQ PC5 providing evidence of
convergent validity with this physiological measure of arousal. Heart rate variability and
urinary neurotransmitters/metabolites were also tested revealing a range of associations
warranting further investigation in future studies.
Finally, the CFQ was piloted in a clinical setting where clinical predictions were supported,
establishing the CFQ as an aid to the diagnostic process and in monitoring the response to
treatment of frustration-related problems. This important achievement completes the
original aims of the thesis and allows the CFQ to be used in a clinical setting and applied in
future clinical research.

Keywords:Animal behaviour, Frustration, dogs
Subjects:D Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects > D300 Animal Science
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
ID Code:48548
Deposited On:14 Mar 2022 14:58

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