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Effect of removing a canine companion on the behaviour and physiology of shelter dogs

J. K. Walker, N. K. Waran, C. J. C. Phillips

HOUSING shelter dogs in pairs is recommended, as the presence of another dog is thought to reduce the stress of social isolation. However, the eventual separation of two dogs (due to rehoming or euthanasia) is usually inevitable. This Australian study aimed to assess the effect of the removal of one pair-housed dog on the dog left behind.

Twenty-four dogs at a single shelter were housed in 12 pairs. The pairs were matched for size, age, sex and temperament. After around 54 days of being housed together, the pairs were separated, either because one dog was rehomed or because it was moved to another housing situation within the shelter. The behaviour of the remaining dog was recorded via digital camera for six days. Faecal samples were collected from dogs before separation and from the remaining dog after separation.

Following separation from their canine companions, the dogs that were left behind spent more time running, grooming themselves, circling, turning figures of eight and stretching. They also spent significantly less time engaged in play. There was a significant increase in …

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