Assessing the Welfare of Kenneled Dogs—A Review of Animal-Based Measures

Scientific Journal Articles

Hundreds of thousands of dogs are housed in kennels worldwide, yet there are no standard protocols for assessing the welfare of dogs in these environments. Animal science is focusing increasingly on the importance of animal-based measures for determining welfare states, and those measures that have been used with kennelled dogs are reviewed in this paper with particular focus on their validity and practicality. From a physiological standpoint, studies using cortisol, heart rate and heart rate variability, temperature changes, and immune function are discussed. Behavioural measures are also of great relevance when addressing canine welfare, thus studies on fear and anxiety behaviours, abnormal behaviours like stereotypies, as well as responses to strangers and novel objects are reviewed. Finally, a limited number of studies attempting to use cognitive bias and learning ability are also mentioned as cognitive measures. The literature to date provides a strong background for which measures may be useful in determining the welfare of kennelled canines, however, more research is needed to further assess the value of using these methods, particularly in regard to the large degree of individual differences that exist between dogs.

Polgár, Z., Blackwell, E.J., and Rooney, N.J. (2019). Assessing the welfare of kennelled dogs—A review of animal-based measures. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 213, 1-13. DOI: 10.1016/j.applanim.2019.02.013

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Topic(s): Breeder Resource, Research and Teaching, Shelter and Rescue, Welfare