shelter dogs, animal welfare, stress, enrichment, adoption success


Animal Studies | Biology


Jodee Hunt


It comes as no surprise that an animal shelter can be a stressful place for dogs. Shelter conditions, accompanied by multiple, novel stimuli, produce a stressful environment that cause hormonal and behavioral responses in dogs housed in shelters. Many of the stereotypical behaviors produced by the stress of living in a shelter, which tend to worsen as length of stay increases, are undesirable to potential adopters. However, many studies have shown that enrichment with a variety of toys, exercise, and human interaction can buffer the stress response in shelter dogs and improve their well-being. Implementing obedience training and temporary fostering programs are especially helpful for shelter dogs in aiding long term adoption success. The aim of improving the lives of dogs living in animal shelters through enhancing their daily activities leads to the ultimate goal of increasing adoption success. In the future, it would be beneficial to focus studies on the effects of sheltering and enrichment on individual dogs, as individuals respond differently to stressors based on a variety of factors. Further research could lead to improved strategies for enhancing the welfare and adoptability of shelter dogs.