Date of Graduation
Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design
Animal and Nutritional Sciences
Animal shelters are very stressful environments for the animals housed there. Dogs that live in shelters have been observed exhibiting stress-related behavior such as barking, pacing, aggression and fear related behaviors such as cowering. Behaviors of this nature are off-putting to prospective adopters. To combat this problem, shelters are using different types of behavioral programs to reduce stress in the kennels. One such program involves human volunteers reading to the dogs. The aim of this study was to determine if listening to the human voice could reduce the expression of stress-related behaviors in shelter dogs. In order to establish the human voice as the primary stimulus, three different audiobook recordings were utilized. Recordings were narrated by a British male, an American male and an American female. Twenty dogs were used in the experiment, ten dogs in the experimental group and ten dogs in the control group. A crossover AB/BA design was used where each group of ten dogs was exposed to all three recordings for 45 minutes at various times during the study. Throughout the 45 minute sessions and at 5 minutes intervals a behavioral observation was recorded for each dog via the shelter cameras. The dogs that were exposed to the recordings displayed relaxed behaviors 73.61% of the time and stress related behaviors 26.39% of the time. The dogs that were exposed to no audio recording displayed relaxed behaviors 24.07% of the time and stressed behaviors 75.92% of the time. No significant differences were observed when the dogs were exposed to the different accents or vocal pitch (male vs. female) of the narrators (P=0.05). These results support the usage of this low-cost tool in animal shelters to promote the expression of more relaxed kennel behavior. Ultimately the improved shelter environment could lead to an increase in adoption rates.
Hypes, Juliana M., "The Effects of the Human Voice on the Behavioral Indicators of Stress in Dogs Housed in an Animal Shelter" (2015). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 5849.