The Effects Of Training And Environmental Alterations On Adoption Success Of Shelter Dogs

Scientific Journal Articles

Approximately 3–4 million dogs are housed annually in USA shelters. This study evaluated the effects of basic obedience training and environmental alterations on adoption rate of shelter dogs. One hundred and eighty dogs, 87 females and 93 males, passed through the one shelter during the 8 weeks of the experiment. They ranged in age from 10 weeks to 7 years (Mean 1.6 years, S.D. 1.5 years). Seventy percent were neutered before being put up for adoption. Almost 80% were considered to be of mixed breed. The dogs were randomly assigned to a trained or control group. Dogs in the trained group were trained once a day, during which they were desensitized to wearing a head halter, taught to come forward in the cage when approached, to walk on a leash, to sit on command and not jump up on people. Every week of the experiment was randomly designated as a week with environmental modifications, or as a control week. Environmental modification consisted of providing blankets and toys in the kennels, colored instead of black-and-white identification cards on the kennel doors, and artificial plants. Statistical analysis involved descriptive statistics; forward stepwise logistic regression analysis for binary outcome variables to assess the effect of various dog characteristics and training on being adopted; and Chi Square to assess effect of environmental modification. Of the 180 dogs, 116 dogs were adopted of which 1 was re-relinquished, 57 were euthanized, 4 went to a rescue organization, 2 were returned to their owners, and 1 died. Trained dogs were 1.4 times more often adopted (P = 0.007) than untrained animals. Among individual factors, only being good with other dogs increased adoption rate significantly (P = 0.035). Being good with children (P = 0.043) did not remain statistically significant in the logistic regression model (P = 0.519). There were 42 dogs adopted during weeks of environmental modification, and 33 during control weeks (P = 0.299). The study demonstrated that training shelter dogs increases adoptability

Luescher, A.U. and Medlock, R.T. (2009). The effects of training and environmental alterations on adoption success of shelter dogs. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 117, 63-68.


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Topic(s): Behavior, Dog to People - Positive Caretaker Interactions, Shelter and Rescue, Social Interactions