Vol 9, Issue 3, August 2022

Do Owners Know How Impulsive Their Dogs Are?


Stevens, J. R., Mathias, M., Herridge, M., Hughes-Duvall, K., Wolff, L. M., & Yohe, M. (2022). Do owners know how impulsive their dogs are? Animal Behavior and Cognition, 9(3), 261-286.  https://doi.org/10.26451/abc.


Impulsivity is an important behavioral trait in dogs that affects many aspects of their relationship with humans. But how well do owners know their dog’s levels of impulsivity? Two studies have investigated how owner perceptions of their dog’s impulsivity correlate with the distance traveled in a spatial impulsivity task requiring choices between smaller, closer vs. larger, more distant food treats (Brady et al., 2018; Mongillo et al., 2019). However, these studies have demonstrated mixed results. The current project aimed to replicate these studies by correlating owner responses to the Dog Impulsivity Assessment Survey (DIAS) and the dog’s maximum distance traveled in a spatial impulsivity task. We found that neither the DIAS overall score nor its three subcomponent scores correlated with dogs’ distance traveled. This result replicates Mongillo et al.’s lack of a relationship but does not replicate Brady et al.’s effect, questioning the generalizability of owner reports of dog impulsivity. The lack of replication could result from differences in methodology and sample populations, but it raises intriguing questions about possible differences in dog characteristics and owner knowledge of their dogs across cultures.


Canine science, Dog cognition, Impulsivity, Replication