ASU Researchers Look At Reducing Dogs' Stress At Shelters

Published: Wednesday, April 12, 2017 - 3:47pm
Updated: Thursday, April 13, 2017 - 3:46pm
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(Photo by Lauren Gilger - KJZZ)
Lisa Gunter, a doctoral candidate in the Canine Science Collaboratory in ASU’s Department of Psychology, and Rufus.

Shelters in our community do good work rescuing and adopting out dogs, but they can be extremely stressful environments for the animals. All of that barking, being stuck in a small area most of the time. It’s not easy.

So when someone comes to see if they might want to adopt them, it can be difficult to get a good read of whether that dog is a good match.

Now a doctoral candidate in ASU’s Canine Science Collaboratory is working to find a better way for these canine companions.

Lisa Gunter is studying behavioral neuroscience in dogs at ASU, and her work started as a pilot study at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah. It’s like a vacation destination for pet lovers who want to volunteer with the dogs there, and she wanted to know what kind of effect these shelter settings were having on the dogs.

So she and her research partner, Erica Feuerbacher, looked at cortisol levels, which measure stress, while the dogs were away from the shelter setting for just one night.

I think both of you know that I’m a dog lover so I went out to the Arizona Humane Society to talk to Gunter about her research, and we had fun hanging out with an old Rhodesian Ridgeback mix named Rufus while we talked about it

Gunter and Feuerbacher were recently awarded a grant to continue this study at four more shelters across the country, including at the Arizona Humane Society. And if you want to see Rufus, he’s still up for adoption. Click here for more information.

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