Survey / Lymed, Smartdog ky (Katriina Tiira), Movet Oy, Police Dog Training Centre

In recent years, dogs owned by the Police Dog Training Centre have participated in some studies and surveys. Three of them have focused on increasing the health and well-being of police dogs, and one has studied the relationship between the dog’s personality and the results of explosives tests. Lymed participated in a pressure garment survey aimed to find out whether Lymed Dog pressure garment might relieve the negative feelings of some dogs when traveling in a car or whether they’d have an impact on some other problematic behavior. Below is a brief description of the survey, its backgrounds and results.

Ten (N = 10) police dogs participated in the survey. These dogs reportedly had problems with traveling in the car, or fears related to surfaces, separation anxiety or combinations of these. A custom-made pressure garment was made for all the dogs participating in the survey.

The material and methods were as follows:
Eight of the dogs were Belgian shepherd Malinois and two were Labradors. Efforts were made to detect the effect of the pressure garment by arranging two identical test days, in which the dog was exposed to its problem behavior.

On the first day of testing the dog’s problem was studied without wearing the pressure garment. On the second day – which was set up to be as identical as possible with the first testing day – dog was exposed to its problem behavior. On the second day the dog was wearing its Lymed pressure garment. On both test days, dog behavior in a problematic situation was recorded, cortisol and creatine values were measured, and its activity levels was measured with a FitBark activity meter. The test days were scheduled so that all events from the dog’s feeding and outdoor activities were carried out similarly, with the same schedule. In addition to these measurements, the dog’s handler’s thoughts and experiences were mapped by a behavioral questionnaire. The questionnaire covered both test days and the dog’s work assignments.

The results can be summarized as follows:
– Nine handlers felt that the pressure garment calmed the dog down, in a scale of “a bit – very much”
– Six of the handlers found that the garment helped in dealing with the problem behavior, in a scale of “a little bit – very much”
– Half of the handlers felt that the pressure garment helped the dog to focus more while working, in a scale of “a bit  – a lot”
– Four handlers were uncapable of answering questions about the dog’s working methods and one handler thought that the pressure garment did not affect the dog’s ability to concentrate on the job

The cortisol measurements did not show a statistically significant difference between the two test days (t = 0.841, df = 9, N = 10, p = 0.422), although on the second day (when wearing the pressure garment) some dogs had a cortisol value of almost half of the first day. Correspondingly with one dog, the cortisol value from day one to day two had risen sharply.

Experiences from the survey show that some dogs get considerable relief from using a custom-made Lymed Dog pressure garment. Further studies, however, would be needed to better identify the types of problems and types of dogs that would benefit the most by using Lymed pressure garments.