Heart rate variability and saliva cortisol assessment in shelter dog: Human–animal interaction effects

The aim of this study is to investigate the effects of a human interaction program on shelter dogs and to determine the effect on canine heart rate variability, behaviour, and salivary cortisol levels. Twenty dogs were behaviourally (temperament tests) and clinically (full cardiologic examination) pre-tested and then matched in two homogenous groups. Ten dogs (group […]

Attachment Behavior of Adult Dogs (Canis familiaris) Living at Rescue Centers- Forming New Bonds

In this study, 60 shelter dogs (Canis familiaris) were observed in the modified version of the Strange Situation Test, which has proved to be a useful method for studying dogs’ attachment behavior toward humans (J. Topal, A. Miklosi, V. Csanyi, & A. D6ka, 1998). Before testing, 40 dogs were handled 3 times for 10 min. […]

Cross sectional study comparing behavioural, cognitive and physiological indicators of welfare between short and long term kennelled domestic dogs

Affective states are an integral part of animal welfare but are difficult to assess using traditional welfare measurements. It has previously been shown that kennelled dogs commonly show indications of poor welfare. The aim of this study was to compare welfare of short-term (ST) and long-term (LT) kennel housed rehoming centre dogs using a range […]

Development of the behavioural assessment for re-homing K9’s (B.A.R.K.) protocol

Globally, millions of dogs enter the welfare shelter system each year. Before being made available for adoption dogs are typically screened for their suitability as companions by way of a “temperament test” or behavioural assessment. In Australia, the majority of dogs that fail their behavioural assessment are subsequently euthanased. Previous research has identified a lack […]

Consistency of shelter dogs’ behavior toward a fake versus real stimulus dog during a behavior evaluation

Behavior evaluations are widely used by animal shelters and other organizations that rehome dogs. The dog-to-dog subtest is a common feature of most canine behavior evaluations. The use of model devices such as a stuffed dog during this subtest could be convenient for shelters and increase safety. However, there is little research indicating if a […]

Evaluation of the predictive validity of the Behavioural Assessment for Re-homing K9’s (B.A.R.K.) protocol and owner satisfaction with adopted dogs

It is common practice for animal shelters and rescue organisations to conduct behaviour assessments on the dogs in their care. The information obtained is used to identify dogs suitable for re-homing and also assist with matching dogs to appropriate homes. Although the aim of these assessments is to provide a snapshot of the behavioural characteristics […]


In a sequence of studies, we evaluated 2 behavioral interventions designed to decrease undesirable in-kennel behaviors of shelter dogs. In Experiment 1, we compared the efficacy of a simple pairing of person with food (response-independent treat delivery) to an increasing interval differential-reinforcement-of-other-behavior (DRO) procedure and a control condition. Both procedures decreased the median percentage of […]

Factors determining the effects of human interaction on the cortisol levels of shelter dogs

The stress experienced by dogs admitted to animal shelters not only impacts welfare, but may lead to behavior that threatens successful adoptions. This stress is reflected in an elevation in the plasma cortisol levels of newly admitted dogs. We previously found 30 min of human interaction reduced the plasma cortisol response dogs showed to shelter […]

Do shelter dogs engage in social referencing with their caregiver in an approach paradigm? An exploratory study

When confronted with an unfamiliar object or person, privately owned pet dogs engage in social referencing, synchronizing their reaction with that of their owners. The question of whether shelter dogs do so when confronted with a stranger has not yet been studied. We tested the reactions of 30 shelter dogs with their principal caregiver when […]

Persistence of food guarding across conditions of free and scheduled feeding in shelter dogs

The hypothesis that free access to food might reduce food-related aggression in shelter dogs was tested. Dogs that exhibited food-related aggression in a standardized assessment (ASPCA SAFER®) were provided either unlimited access to food or two scheduled daily feedings for 3 days (Groups A and B) or 9 days (Groups D and E). Both within- […]