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      How good is this food? A study on dogs' emotional responses to a potentially pleasant event using infrared thermography.

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          Abstract

          Understanding how animals express positive emotions is becoming an interesting and promising area of research in the study of animal emotions and affective experiences. In the present study, we used infrared thermography in combination with behavioral measures, heart rate (HR) and heart rate variability (HRV), to investigate dogs' emotional responses to a potentially pleasant event: receiving palatable food from the owner. Nineteen adult pet dogs, 8 females and 11 males, were tested and their eye temperature, HR, HRV and behavior were recorded during a 30-minutestestconsisting of three 10-minute consecutive phases: Baseline (Phase 1), positive stimulation through the administration of palatable treats (Feeding, Phase 2) and Post-feeding condition following the positive stimulation (Phase 3). Dogs' eye temperature and mean HR significantly increased during the positive stimulation phase compared with both Baseline and Post-feeding phases. During the positive stimulation with food (Phase 2), dogs engaged in behaviors indicating a positive emotional state and a high arousal, being focused on food treats and increasing tail wagging. However, there was no evidence of an increase in HRV during Phase 2 compared to the Phase 1, with SDNN significantly increasing only in Phase 3, after the positive stimulation occurred. Overall results point out that IRT may be a useful tool in assessing emotional states in dogs in terms of arousal but fails to discriminate emotional valence, whose interpretation cannot disregard behavioral indexes.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          Physiol. Behav.
          Physiology & behavior
          1873-507X
          0031-9384
          May 15 2016
          : 159
          Affiliations
          [1 ] Dipartimento di Neuroscienze, Unità di Biologia del Comportamento, Università degli Studi di Parma, Parco Area delle Scienze 11/A, 43124 Parma, Italy. Electronic address: tiziano.travain@studenti.unipr.it.
          [2 ] Dipartimento di Fisiopatologia Medico-Chirurgica e dei Trapianti, Sezione di Neuroscienze, Università degli Studi di Milano, via Fratelli Cervi 93, Segrate, 20090 MI, Italy. Electronic address: elisasilvia.colombo@unimi.it.
          [3 ] Dipartimento di Neuroscienze, Unità di Fisiologia, Università degli Studi di Parma, via Volturno 39, 43125 Parma, Italy. Electronic address: lauraclara.grandi@nemo.unipr.it.
          [4 ] Dipartimento di Scienze Veterinarie e Sanità Pubblica, Università degli Studi di Milano, via Celoria 10, 20133 Milan, Italy. Electronic address: eugenio.heinzl@unimi.it.
          [5 ] Dipartimento di Neuroscienze, Unità di Psicologia, Università degli Studi di Parma, Piazzale San Francesco 1, 43121 Parma, Italy. Electronic address: annalisa.pelosi@unipr.it.
          [6 ] Dipartimento di Fisiopatologia Medico-Chirurgica e dei Trapianti, Sezione di Neuroscienze, Università degli Studi di Milano, via Fratelli Cervi 93, Segrate, 20090 MI, Italy. Electronic address: emanuela.pratoprevide@unimi.it.
          [7 ] Dipartimento di Neuroscienze, Unità di Biologia del Comportamento, Università degli Studi di Parma, Parco Area delle Scienze 11/A, 43124 Parma, Italy. Electronic address: paolamaria.valsecchi@unipr.it.
          Article
          S0031-9384(16)30105-6
          10.1016/j.physbeh.2016.03.019
          26996276
          ef4ac872-fce6-4b76-9567-f0d673feea17
          Copyright © 2016 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
          History

          Behavior,Dog,Heart Rate,Heart rate variability,Infrared thermography,Positive emotion

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