Kiddie, J., Collins, L. 2015. Identifying environmental and management factors that may be associated with the quality of life of kenneled dogs (Canis familiaris). Applied Animal Behaviour Science 167, 43-55.
This paper describes the use of a validated quality of life assessment tool (described elsewhere) to identify environmental and management factors that may affect quality of life in dogs kennelled in rehoming centres. Dogs were allocated to one of the four treatment groups, all of which had a positive (0.0–1.0) average quality of life score: long stay dogs with an enriched routine had a mean score of 0.477; long stay dogs with a standard routine had a mean score of 0.453; newly admitted dogs with an enriched routine had a mean score of 0.399; and newly admitted dogs with a standard routine had a mean score of 0.362. Only 2% of the dogs had a negative score (−1.0–0.0). Thirteen rehoming centre managers completed a questionnaire relating to the kennel environment and management practices of their rehoming centres. The environmental and management factors’ associations with quality of life scores, collected from 202 dogs from the 13 rehoming centres using this scoring system, were analysed as fixed factors in a linear mixed-effect model, with rehoming centre fitted as a random factor, and a multiple linear regression model. There was a statistically significant association between quality of life scores and rehoming centre (H(12) = 54.153, p < 0.001), however, the fitted linear mixed-effect model did not improve upon the null model and therefore cannot be used to explain the 29% variance in quality of life scores attributed to rehoming centre. The multiple linear regression model explained 42% of the variation in quality of life scores (F(10,131) = 9.318, p < 0.001): the provision of bunk beds increased quality of life scores by 0.3 (t = 3.476, p < 0.001); provision of 30 min or more of staff or volunteer interaction increased scores by 0.26 (t = −2.551, p = 0.012); grooming dogs decreased scores by 0.404 (t = 3.326, p = 0.001); exercising dogs more than once a day decreased scores by 0.173 (t = −3.644, p = <0.001), whereas exercising dogs for 30 min or more increased quality of life scores by 0.213 (t = −2.374, p = 0.019) and the provision of less common types of exercise increased scores by 0.504 (t = 5.120, p < 0.001); training dogs for 30 min or more every day increased scores by 0.688 (t = 3.040, p = 0.003) and training dogs less than daily decreased scores by 0.393 (t = −4.245, p < 0.001); feeding a diet of dry and wet food compared to dry food alone decreased scores by 0.08 (t = −2.331, p = 0.021); and a quiet environment increased scores by 0.275 (t = −3.459, p < 0.001). These results suggest that environmental design and kennel management have an impact on the quality of life of kennelled dogs and should be considered carefully in decision-making processes. However, further study may be required as grooming and exercising dogs more than once per day decreased quality of life scores, which are not obviously intuitive results.