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New studies indicate canine genetics play a part in training effectiveness

Calming your dog down in exciting situations can be a challenge, but now researchers are connecting canine DNA to dogs’ ability to focus and follow commands, at least in German Shepherds. In a recent study published in PLoS ONE, scientists tested 104 German Shepherds with simple training exercises, such as “the-lie-down-and-be-calm-test,” among others in order to examine how the dogs responded to impulse-control exercises.

The researchers then considered the differences between the dogs’ DNA, focusing mainly on the gene that is believed to control the production of dopamine and norepinephrine, the neurotransmitters which control the ability to focus and respond emotionally. This gene has generally been associated with attention deficit disorder in humans.

Researchers found that the German Shepherds with the shortened form of the gene (37 dogs) had the most trouble controlling their behavior during the training exercises, while the dogs with the long versions of the gene were able to focus and complete the exercises with great calmness. These findings held true regardless of sex, training level, and age.

Scientists believe that not only will this new research help identify hyperactive dogs, but it could also be useful in studying the presence of ADHD in humans.

-Reported by R

Story adapted from: http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2012/01/scienceshot-is-your-dog-a-zen.html?ref=hp