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Shelter Noise Hurts Dogs


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Dog Fancy Magazine, December 2006 p 14.

Walk into most animal shelters in the country, and you’ll be greeted by a chorus of barking dogs.

The howling, whining, and yapping can sometimes reach such a frenzy it exceeds 110 decibels – the noise level produced by a jackhammer, according to a recent study.

“While some employees may wear hearing protectors, doges don’t have that option,” says the study’s author Crista Coppola, an instructor in the department of veterinary medicine at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The constant din can cause stress and lead to behavioral changes in dogs, Coppola says.

The study, co-authored by Colorado State University professors Mark Enns and Temple Grandin, appears in the Spring 2006 issue of the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science.

One way they found to reduce both noise and stress in dogs is cohabitation. Dogs housed in social groups vocalize less, sleep more, and show fewer abnormal behaviors, the researchers note.

Retrofitting shelters is another option, but it’s costly. Even during new construction, researchers point out that noise abatement designs are often overlooked.

In a separate study, Coppola and colleagues found that daily human contact, such as playing, grooming, and petting, reduced shelter dog anxiety levels.

“Keeping dogs behaviorally healthy helps keep them physically healthy,” she says. “And healthy, unstressed dogs have a tendency to be more calm and relaxed.”

By M.M.

Original photographs courtesy of the Bioacoustics Laboratory UConn. Edited by Frances Foley.

Production, Graphics & Design by Frances Caprio Foley.
Noisemakers Productions. Copyright 2007.
Updated June 2007.