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The Influence of Length of Time in a Rescue Shelter on the Behaviour of Kennelled Dogs

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Animal rescue shelters provide temporary housing for thousands of stray and abandoned dogs every year. Many of these animals fail to find new homes and are forced to spend long periods of time in kennels. This study examined the influence of the length of time spent in a rescue shelter (<1 month, 2-12 months, 1-5 years, >5 years) on the behaviour of 97 dogs. The dogs' position in their kennels (front, back), their activity (moving, standing, sitting, resting, sleeping), and their vocalisation (barking, quiet, other) were recorded over a 4 h period at 10 min intervals. The dogs' behaviour was significantly related to the length of time the animals had spent in the rescue shelter. Dogs housed in the shelter for over five years spent more of their time at the back of their kennels, more time resting, and less time barking than dogs housed in the shelter for shorter periods of time. The age of the dog could not account for the significant results found, suggesting that environmental factors were responsible for the change in the dogs' behaviour. The findings suggest that lengthy periods of time spent in a captive environment may encourage dogs to behave in a manner that is generally considered unattractive by potential buyers. This may decrease the chances of such dogs being adopted, resulting in longer periods of time spent in the kennel environment and the possible development of further undesirable behaviours.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2002

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