Animal shelter environments are busy places during the day time. I know, because I’ve worked at one and found the environment to be noisy and stressful with the constant comings and goings of people, dogs, and various bits of equipment (trolleys, hoses, leashes, poles, broomsticks … you get the idea).

Shelter dogs don’t have the luxury of being forewarned about these activities. They are cornered in a small kennel space, and cannot escape from whatever is coming at them. We all know this to be true, but struggle to overcome these limitations in the kennel environment.

Today a new study, published in PLOS ONE, and authored by Sara Owczarczak-Garstecka and Oliver Burman (University of Liverpool and University of Lincoln, UK) suggests that dogs that had increased rest time during daylight hours were more relaxed, had reduced judgement bias, and showed fewer repetitive behaviors. 

In particular, the study wanted to address the relationship between sleep and welfare of shelter dogs. They found that the dogs slept a lot less during the day than previously thought, but that increased resting time during the day did have the above-mentioned positive impacts. They suggest this is not the end of the research story: what is the causal relationship between sleep/rest and welfare: Does sleeping and resting improve welfare, or does improved welfare increase sleep and rest quality?

Either way, this study does support the notion that shelter managers should deeply weigh the consequences of giving their dogs a mid-day quiet hour vs. denying access to potential adopters during that hour.  To my mind, the question that researchers could address to make this decision easier for shelter managers is: Will a mid-day quiet-hour increase adoption rates?

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