Hunt, R. L., Whiteside, H., Prankel, S. 2022. Effects of environmental enrichment on dog behaviour: Pilot study. Animals 12(2), 141.
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.