Jongman, E.C., Butler, K.L., Hemsworth, P.H. 2018. The effects of kennel size and exercise on the behaviour and stress physiology of individually-housed greyhounds. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 199, 29-34.
Greyhounds are routinely bred and managed for racing and are usually housed in individual kennels. To address the question of whether greyhounds would benefit from an increase in the minimum kennel size specified in the Victorian Code of Practice, the effects of kennel size and routine exercise on dog behaviour, stress physiology and injuries were examined. A total of 36 healthy greyhounds (aged 17 months (replicate 1 and 2) and 12 months (replicate 3)) were studied in three time replicates in a 2×2factorial experiment (kennel size of 3m2 and 10m2 of floor space, and two levels of exercise (‘no exercise’ and ‘exercise’(consisting of 2×10min per day and 3 times per week chasing a lure)) over 6 weeks. During the 1st and 5th week of treatment, dog behaviours were recorded for 2days in their kennels using time-lapse video. During the 6th week, six saliva samples were collected to measure basal cortisol concentrations, an ACTH challenge test was performed and injuries were assessed. Intensity of exercise had no significant (p>>>0.05) effect on behaviour, stress physiology and injuries. In the 1st week the adult dogs in large kennels spent more time in the front of the kennels (p<<0.05), less time in the back of the kennels (p<<.01), less time lying (p<<0.05) and more time standing (p<<0.01) than those adult dogs in the small kennels. In week 5, the younger dogs in the large kennels spent more time at the front of the kennel (p<<0.05), less time in the back (p<<0.01) and spent more of their lying down time at the front and middle of the kennel (p<<0.001) than dogs in the small kennels. No significant differences in any of the measurements were found in the adult dogs in week 5. No abnormal or stereotypic behaviour was observed in Week 1 or 5. No significant differences in injuries, saliva cortisol concentrations and maximum cortisol concentrations in response to ACTH were found. The results of this study do not provide evidence that the smaller kennels and limited exercise increase the risks to dog welfare based on behaviour, stress physiology and injuries. Nevertheless, the observation that dogs tended to spend more time in the front of the large kennels where they were in view of other dogs could indicate that larger kennels may enable better welfare by providing additional social contact.