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Challenges and Solutions Surrounding Environmental Enrichment for Dogs and Cats in a Scientific Environment

Effects of Environmental Enrichment on Dog Behaviour: Pilot Study

Guide Dogs National Centre, Banbury Road, Bishop’s Tachbrook, Warwickshire CV33 9WF, UK
School of Science and the Environment, University of Worcester, St John’s. Campus, Henwick Grove, St. John’s, Worcester WR2 6AJ, UK
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Wendy Y. Brown, Peta Taylor, Megan Verdon and Mandy Paterson
Animals 2022, 12(2), 141;
Received: 19 November 2021 / Revised: 10 December 2021 / Accepted: 1 January 2022 / Published: 7 January 2022
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Enrichment for Animals in our Care)
The quality of life for domestic and captive animals can be enhanced and improved by providing additional stimuli and activities, known as environmental enrichment (EE). However, it is important to ensure the enrichment provides benefit to the animal, and as such the behaviour of the animals can be monitored to understand the activities’ impacts. A pilot study was undertaken to evaluate the impact of seven different EE activities on the behaviour of 10 training dogs housed in an office environment during training within an assistance dog charity. Results suggest there is a need to diversify thinking around EE, shifting common thinking of EE as one entity to instead consider EE in different categories and to ensure animals receive a mixture of EE types.
Environmental enrichment (EE) can be used to enhance the environment of various animals. The aim of this pilot study was to determine the effects of seven EE activities (Bonding, Bubble machine, Conspecific play, Interactive toy, Playhouse, Stuffed food toy and Tug play) on dog behaviour, pre- and post-EE for dogs housed in an office environment during training as part of an assistance dog training programme. EE activities resulted in a significant increase in the frequency of relaxation behaviours (p < 0.01) and a significant reduction in alert (p < 0.01) and stress behaviours (p = 0.02). Results suggest various benefits of the different activities with Conspecific Play and Playhouse activities having the greatest overall positive behaviour change when compared to the other activities. The food-based EE activities (Interactive toy and Stuffed food toy) had the least behaviour change of all the activities provided. Findings will be of interest to pet owners, animal rescue centres, dog trainers and working dog organisations. View Full-Text
Keywords: environmental enrichment; dog; behaviour environmental enrichment; dog; behaviour
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MDPI and ACS Style

Hunt, R.L.; Whiteside, H.; Prankel, S. Effects of Environmental Enrichment on Dog Behaviour: Pilot Study. Animals 2022, 12, 141.

AMA Style

Hunt RL, Whiteside H, Prankel S. Effects of Environmental Enrichment on Dog Behaviour: Pilot Study. Animals. 2022; 12(2):141.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Hunt, Rebecca L., Helen Whiteside, and Susanne Prankel. 2022. "Effects of Environmental Enrichment on Dog Behaviour: Pilot Study" Animals 12, no. 2: 141.

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