behavioral effects of olfactory stimulation on dogs in a rescue shelter

behavioral effects
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Behavioral effects of olfactory stimulation on dogs in a rescue shelter

Many puppies are unbroken in rescue and rehoming shelters that are oftentimes nerve-wracking and under-stimulating environments. Dog welfare is usually compromised at intervals these environments and there's a requirement to work out new sensible and effective strategies of rising the welfare of those kennelled dogs. olfactive stimulation has been incontestable to
own positive behavioral effects in an exceedingly vary of contexts, however, this field 
remains comparatively understudied within the puppy. This study aimed to analyze the results of olfactive
stimulation via vanilla, coconut, ginger, and flower on the behavior of fifteen dogs at a rescue shelter

The dogs were at the same time exposed to 6 olfactive conditions mistreatment scented cloths following a set order (cloth control coconut, vanilla, valerian, ginger associated odor control) for two h every day for three days with an intervening amount of 2 days between conditions. The dogs’ behavior was recorded each ten min throughout the two h olfactive conditions mistreatment instant scan-sampling. Exposure to ginger, coconut, vanilla, and flower resulted in significantly lower levels of vocalizations and movement compared to the management conditions, whereas coconut and ginger to boot increased levels of sleeping behavior. These odors could have application in rescue shelters due to the reduction of behaviors like barking and activity which can be indicative of stress moreover as being traits perceived as undesirable by adopters. This analysis provides support for the utilization of olfactive stimulation within the kennel setting.

Fifteen singly-housed dogs (13 males; 2 females) aged between 18 months and 9 years (mean age: 4 years and 4 months) were used in this study. The dogs varied in the breed such that one was an American Bulldog cross, one was a collie cross, five were Staffordshire bull terrier crosses, one was a lurcher cross, one was a Jack Russell terrier, one was a lurcher, one was a mastiff-boxer cross, two were Staffordshire bull terriers, one was a terrier and one was an English bull terrier-collie cross. Thirteen of the dogs were medium in size (bull terriers and bull terrier crosses, American bulldog cross, collie cross, mastiff-boxer cross, lurcher and lurcher cross), and two of the dogs were small (terrier, Jack Russell terrier). All dogs were neutered or spayed and deemed healthy by on-site veterinary staff. The dogs had varying origins; four dogs had been relinquished by their owner, three dogs came from another shelter and eight dogs had strayed and came from local dog wardens.

All the dogs had been at the shelter for at least two months (range: 2–21 months; mean length of time: 7.9 months).

The dogs were housed at Gloucestershire Animal Welfare Association and Cheltenham Animal Shelter, Cheltenham, UK. The site consisted of dog kennels, cat kennels, and an on-site veterinary clinic and reception center. The dog kennels were arranged in two rows of opposite-facing blocks (five meters apart), with the observation/
the walking area in between. There were a total of five blocks, four blocks contained dogs available for rehoming, and an isolation block contained dogs considered by shelter workers to be particularly vulnerable to stress. The dogs in the isolation block were excluded from the study.

Blocks one, two and three were in one row with block four and the isolation block on the opposite facing row. Block one had no block opposite it, while block two was opposite block four and block three was opposite the isolation block.


 There were visually occluding fences between blocks two and four, and block three and the isolation block.

The isolation block also had additional fencing preventing physical and
visual access so this was accessible only by staff. Each block contained eight standardized individual rectangular kennels and each block was
full at the time of the study. Not all of the dogs in the kennel blocks were included in the study due to either their young age, their recent arrival at the shelter, or because they were due to be rehomed shortly.

 The dogs included in the study were located throughout the blocks of kennels, such that five dogs were housed in kennel block one, three dogs were in block two, one dog was in block three and six dogs were in block four. All subjects were housed in the same kennels during the study. Kennels were rectangular and had an access door at either end.

Each kennel contained a bed and a water bowl and measured approximately 4 m (length) by 1 m (width) by 2.5 m (height). The kennels were cleaned daily at 8:30 h. Dogs were fed twice daily at 8:15 h and 15:45 h. All dogs were walked twice daily at 10:30 h and 15:30 h for 10 min.

2.2. Olfactory conditions
The dogs were exposed to six different olfactory conditions, four experimental conditions applied with a scented cloth and two control

conditions, one using an unscented cloth (odour control) and one where no cloth was present (cloth control). The odour control condition provided a comparison for the odour conditions by the use of an unscented cloth, while the cloth control condition aimed to control for the potential effects of the cloth as a novel object upon the dogs’ behavior and subsequent results. 


In the experimental conditions, dogs were exposed to cloths scented with the essential oils coconut (coconut fragrance oil (Code: FOCOCO10); Mystic Moments, UK), vanilla (vanilla fragrance oil (Code: FOVANI10); Mystic Moments, UK), valerian (valerian root essential oil (Code: VAL10); Essential Oils Direct, UK), and ginger (ginger 100% pure essential aromatherapy oil (Code: 5052211003023); Calmer Solutions, UK). For each individual condition, the dogs were simultaneously exposed to the olfactory treatment in order to avoid odours interfering with one another, as the wired mesh doors at the front of the enclosures did not prevent odour transmission.

2.3. Procedure
The four experimental conditions (coconut, vanilla, valerian, and ginger) were presented to the dogs on 35 cm by 30 cm microfiber cloths. These cloths were sterilized using an H2O steam cleaner (H20 × 5, Thane) and latex gloves were worn by the researcher during any cloth-related interaction to avoid odour transmission. For experimental conditions, clothes were scented using a pipette by placing five drops of the relevant essential oil onto the material; one in each corner and one in the center to ensure even distribution. Post scenting, clothes were placed into sealable plastic bags to prevent contamination from pathogens and other odors.

Cloths were scented 60 min prior to being placed in the dogs’ kennels.
Cloths were placed into individual dogs’ kennels 30 min before the beginning of each recording session and removed at the end of each recording session, with a new freshly scented cloth provided each day.
Cloths were placed into the enclosure 30 min before observations to allow habituation to the presence of the cloths. Cloths were placed in the center of each enclosure to encourage interaction and maximize odor coverage. The dogs were able to touch and interact with them clothes.

For the odor control condition, clothes were left unscented. For the cloth control condition, dogs were not presented with a cloth. The cloth the control condition was applied first followed by coconut, vanilla, valerian, ginger, and the odor control condition. The fixed order of conditions was randomly determined. The dogs were observed within each condition for a 2 h period from 11:00 h to 13:00 h for three consecutive days with two-day intervals between conditions.

Observations were conducted during this time period, which was outside of feeding and walking times, to prevent food or exercise anticipatory behaviors affecting the dogs’ behavior. This time period also allowed a comparison between the dogs’ behavior when the shelter was closed to visitors (11:00 h to 12:00 h) and when the shelter was open to the public (12:00 h to 13:00 h) during visiting hours (12:00 h to 16:00 h). Before each observation period, there was a 20 min observer habituation period (10:40 h to 11:00 h). This  allowed the dogs to habituate to the observer’s presence and observation circuit during the observations.

The dogs’ behavior was recorded by the observer every 10 min for the 2 h observation period using instantaneous scan-sampling. The experimenter recorded the dogs’ behavior during an observation circuit, where the observer walked past each kennel block and recorded the relevant subject’s behavior. At each sampling point (every 10 min) the observer began the observation circuit starting with block 1, proceeding past block 2 and block 3 and then onto block 4. All subjects were sampled within approximately 60 s.

Six scans were conducted each hour and 6 behavior points were recorded, resulting in 36 behavior points being recorded over three days per dog for every condition. Behaviors were recorded based on an ethogram used in previous work (Graham et al., 2005) (Table 1). The position of the dog was recorded at each time point in addition to the other variables. In addition, if vocalizing occurred alongside another
behavior, both were recorded.

The observer conducted observations during their observation circuit from an open area in the compound located between the rows of kennels.

2.4. Data analysis
All fifteen dogs completed the procedure and the data set comprised 12 records per dog. The dogs completed six conditions, each of which

was considered for two time periods. The total frequency of each behavior for each condition was summed, providing an overall count per animal for each hour for each olfactory condition. Where behaviors were exhibited at very low levels across all conditions (mean frequency < 1) they were omitted from the analysis as statistical analyses are not robust at such low levels. Otherwise, a linear mixed effects model was used to test for significant effects of time and condition and to identify interaction effects. The linear mixed effects model was used to estimate the effect of olfactory condition (nested within the individual)
while controlling for the effect of time (nested within condition; within the individual). In the model, individual (n = 15) was fitted as a random effect and time (two levels) was fitted as a fixed effect. Condition (six levels) was also fitted as a fixed effect. Interactions were assessed between condition and time. Where significant differences between conditions were identified, multiple comparisons were performed with Tukey adjusted p-values reported. All statistical analyses were performed in R version 3.3.2; packages name, multcomp and Rmisc (R Core The team, 2016)


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