Cobb, M. L., Carter, A., Lill, A. et al. 2022. Perceived importance of specific kennel management practices for the provision of canine welfare. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 249, 105591.
There is public interest for the welfare of dogs that spend at least part of their lives housed in kennel facilities, such as working, shelter and sporting dogs. The impacts of living in environments that limit social, physical, and behavioral opportunities are generally well understood in other animals, such as livestock and zoo animals. Research exploring the effects of the kennel environment and its enrichment on the behavior and physiology of dogs is emerging. However, human perceptions concerning what is important to the welfare of kenneled dogs have been overlooked. What people believe is important will influence their behavior, with direct relation to care provided to animals and the underlying social license of related industries to operate. This study evaluated the perceived importance of specific kennel management practices relating to canine health, kennel facility design and routine, social interactions, and environmental enrichment. Over 2000 self-selected adults completed a voluntary, internet-based questionnaire. Differences in beliefs and attitudes were identified based on kennel facility experience, employment role, age, and gender, highlighting potential areas of discordance that may contribute to occupational stress and staff turnover. The results also suggest that research findings published in the scientific literature may not be successfully translating into evidence-based changes in industry practice. Future models to assess animal welfare should include the critical dimension of human-animal interaction. The beliefs, attitudes, and consequent behaviors of people interacting with dogs housed in kennels will determine how living in captivity impacts upon the experiences and welfare of the resident dogs.