Effects of additional walks and social play on physical activity and rest in shelter



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Dogs entering the shelter experience stress upon admission and throughout their time in the shelter. Different enrichment interventions have been used to mitigate the adverse effects of stress and promote physical and psychological well-being of these dogs. The objective of the current study was to evaluate two enrichment strategies, walk and social play, and identify differences in physical activity and rest during and after enrichment sessions.

To evaluate walks and social play, twenty-five shelter dogs housed at two locations were tested in a within-subject design. Dogs wore accelerometers (Whistle Activity MonitorTM) for 16 days. Analysis of in-kennel rest and physical activity revealed that, on average, dogs at the Canine Olfaction Research and Education (CORE) lab received significantly more physical activity from an additional walk than an additional play session (est.=0.86, z=9.8, P<0.001). There was no significant difference between each event for The Shelter dogs (est.=0.08, z=1.01, P=0.31). Moreover, dogs from the CORE lab had more in-kennel rest than dogs at the Shelter (est.=0.21, z=4.04, P<0.001), and rested more during daylight active times (est.=0.83, t=2.6, P=0.016). On average, dogs across both locations rested more during days in which they received an additional walk (est.=0.021, z=6.2, P<0.001; est.=0.026, z=8.98, P<0.001). There were individual differences observed between dog pairs, both in physical activity and rest.

Physical activity and rest may be useful measures of welfare in shelter dogs, but these two factors may not be directly related. Differences in physical activity and rest between locations and individuals indicates the dog’s social partner during sessions. there may be several factors that cumulatively influence whether a dog receives more physical activity from a walk or play session with a companion. Moreover, there may be several factors that influence the amount of rest a dog receives.



Physical activity, Rest, Shelter dogs