HRV as an Index of Impulse Control in Dogs: Experiment 1

Published: 31 August 2019| Version 3 | DOI: 10.17632/dt68zf8234.3
Sarah Beurms


In this experiment, dogs were either cued to lie-down and stay for 10 minutes (Impulse Control condition) or to enter a cage and stay there for the same duration (Kenneled condition) while their cardiac activity was measured. Each test session consisted of three phases. First, the dog was placed in the car cage and a 10 min baseline measurement was collected. Second, the dog was either cued by its handler to enter the experimental cage (Kenneled condition) or to lie-down and stay (Impulse Control condition) next to the experimental cage, whereupon the handler closed the cage and walked away from view. In both conditions, the dog had to stay for 10 minutes, while the handler was inconspicuously watching the dog from behind a window. In this way, the handler could see when the dog broke the stay and could immediately cue the dog from a distance to lie down again. Third, the dog was placed back into the car cage for a 10 min recovery baseline measurement. This dataset shows the (cardiac) data for each individual in each condition and phase. The Polar® software Polar Protrainer 5 was used to export the IBI’s as text files. Artifacts were replaced by linear interpolation of the means of the two neighboring data points. In accordance with the literature, five minutes of each phase were used to calculate HRV. Of the baseline phase, the last five minutes were analyzed. This allowed us to eliminate the stress-effects of beginning the experiment and of putting the polar strap around the chest of the dog. Of these five minutes, the last 30 seconds were removed to account for approaching the car and opening the trunk during that timeframe. Of the manipulation and recovery phase, the middle five minutes were analyzed in order to eliminate noise in the data caused by the handler’s presence when leaving or approaching the dog at the beginning and end.



Heart Rate Variability, Working Dog, Self-Control