Glucocorticoid and Behavioral Responses of Shelter Dogs to Human Interaction: Investigating the Effects of the Dog-human Bond on Animal Welfare
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Millions of dogs are relinquished to animal shelters and rescues each year. Even in a well-run and attentive shelter, dogs are introduced to a variety of psychological stressors and experience a drastic increase in cortisol levels. Exercise, play, and human contact are simple and cost-effective means that shelters can adopt to optimize welfare by promoting positive experiences within the kennel environment. However, no study has yet evaluated whether the reduction of cortisol levels is due to mere human interaction or the development of a dog-human bond. Over the course of several weeks, shelter dogs were subjected to working with the same volunteer or rotating volunteers to see which interaction more effectively reduces behavioral indicators of stress and urinary cortisol levels. This project was made possible by funding from F&M's Leser Scholars Grant.
Poster presented at the 2017 Closer Look Research Fair at Franklin and Marshall College
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