Does enriched human interaction and paired walking affect behaviour of shelter dogs? (#249)
Domestic dogs play an increasing role in today’s society; however thousands of animals are relinquished to animal shelters in most major cities. Confining dogs in shelters for long periods while they await rehoming raises two concerns: the provision of adequate welfare and the development of unfavorable behaviours that may limit the dogs’ ability to be rehomed. We assessed whether enhanced human interaction (quiet interaction or play 3 days /week) or the provision of walking in pairs (daily) altered the behaviour of dogs. We used Qualitative Behavioural Assessment (QBA) to quantify the behavioural expression of individual dogs in their kennel, comparing footage of 30 dogs, over 14 day period. The observers achieved significant agreement in their assessment of the behavioural expression of the dogs before and after treatment, with dogs scored as more ‘excited’, ‘playful’, ‘happy’ after treatment. A comparison of this assessment with behavioural ethograms will be discussed. Hence QBA provides a methodology to improve behavioural states in shelter dogs.