The effects of oral selegiline hydrochloride on learning and
training in the dog: a psychobiological interpretation

Mills D, Ledger R.
Animal Behaviour, Cognition and Welfare Group,
De Montfort University Lincoln,
Faculty of Applied Sciences, Caythorpe, Lincs, UK.
Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry 2001 Nov;25(8):1597-613


1. Twenty two healthy, non-problem dogs were assessed for their acquisition of three different learning tasks on consecutive days and on the extinction of the response in the third. In Task 1, dogs were trained to walk in a circle on command. In Task 2, dogs were trained to retreat and sit on a mat. In Task 3, dogs were assessed for the acquisition and extinction of an operant response (pawing a panel). 2. Dogs were orally administered a placebo or selegiline hydrochloride at a dose of 0.5 mg/kg for a period of three weeks prior to testing and during the test period. 3. Dog's treated with selegiline tended to perform better at tasks which were clearly lured with a motivationally significant cue, performing a first correct response sooner and requiring fewer reinforcements to reach the success criterion. They were also significantly more likely to walk over a novel object placed on the floor of the test arena. In the absence of a significant lure, the selegiline treated dogs took significantly longer to reach the required performance criterion for the operant task. These dogs also extinguished their response more rapidly than the control group 4. In the third task, selegiline treated dogs were significantly less likely to look away and throughout all tasks these dogs tended to be less distracted than the placebo group. 5. These findings and other reports associated with the effects of selegiline on learning may be explained by reference to the effects of selegiline on dopaminergic structures associated with positive incentive motivation.

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