Management and Behavioral Factors Associated With Rehoming Outcomes of Dogs Retired from Commercial Breeding Kennels – CRONEY RESEARCH GROUP

Scientific Journal Articles

Rehoming is a potentially stressful process for dogs retired from commercial breeding (CB) kennels, as they may struggle to cope with the myriad novel factors associated with transitioning to a home environment. Failure to adapt may increase the risk of an unsuccessful adoption, jeopardizing dog welfare and the benefits of rehoming programs. Little is known about relationships between welfare in the kennel of origin and a dog’s ability to transition to a family home. This study aimed at investigating the welfare states of dogs retiring from CB kennels in relation to varying management practices across kennels, and understanding how behavioral and management factors might be associated with rehoming outcomes. A total of 590 adult dogs from 30 US CB kennels were included in the study. Dog behavioral and physical health metrics were collected through direct observation, while management information was obtained through a questionnaire. One month after adoption, 32 dog owners completed a follow-up questionnaire (CBARQ). A principal component analysis extracted four behavioral components (PCs) which included food interest, sociability, boldness, and responsiveness. Factors such as sex, housing, breed, and the number of dogs per caretaker were reported as significant sources of variation for some of those PC scores (p<0.05). For instance, lower dog to caretaker ratio was linked to better health, sociability, and food interest scores. Significant relationships were also found between in-kennel PC scores and CBARQ scores (p<0.05). Most interestingly, higher levels of sociability in the kennel were associated with lower levels of social and non-social fear, and higher trainability after rehoming. Overall, dogs were found to be physically healthy, and a moderate proportion showed fearful responses toward either social or non-social stimuli. Results suggest that a comprehensive behavioral assessment of rehoming candidates while in the kennel may help identify dogs that may have more difficulty coping during rehoming. The implications for developing management strategies and necessary interventions that support positive dog welfare outcomes within the kennel and when rehomed are discussed.

Barnard S, Flint H, Diana A, Shreyer T, Arrazola A, Serpell J, et al. (2023) Management and behavioral factors associated with rehoming outcomes of dogs retired from commercial breeding kennels. PLoS ONE 18(3): e0282459.

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Topic(s): Breeder Resource, Environment, Retiring & Rehoming: Environmental Considerations