Short Term Consequences of Preventing Visitor Access to Kennels on Noise and the Behaviour and Physiology of Dogs Housed in a Rescue Shelter

Scientific Journal Articles

Re-homing centres present a range of potential stressors to kennelled dogs which are likely to impact negatively on their welfare. Despite the presence of visitors to the kennel often being considered a potential stressor, empirical investigation into their impact on the behaviour and welfare of kennelled dogs in re-homing centres is lacking. This study investigated the influence of changing visitor access policy from open access to prohibited viewing at kennels (with organised single meetings for viewing dogs outside of the kennel environment) on the welfare of 15 dogs housed in a dog-only re-homing facility. Data were collected across a number of domains comprising kennel noise levels, behavioural measures (activity, repetitive behaviour, response to human approach); physiological measures (urinary cortisol:creatinine ratios); sickness events and faecal scoring. The general kennel noise levels were significantly lower when visitor access to the kennel area was restricted. Furthermore, dogs were found to display behaviour indicative of improved welfare during this time period; dogs spent significantly more time sedentary, less time moving and exhibited significantly fewer episodes of repetitive behaviours. No significant change was seen in the urinary cortisol:creatinine ratio, nor in sickness behaviour, faecal scoring or response to a human approach test. Overall, the results from this study suggest that restricting visitors from viewing the dogs while in their kennels may be better for the dogs’ short term welfare.

Hewison, L.F., Wright, H.F., Zulch, H.E., and Ellis, S.L.H. (2014). Short term consequences of preventing visitor access to kennels on noise and the behaviour and physiology of dogs housed in a rescue shelter. Physiology & Behavior, 133, 1-7. DOI: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2014.04.045

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Topic(s): Environment, Noise Levels, Shelter and Rescue