The Effect of Owner-Dog Exercise on Return Rates of Shelter Dogs (ASUF 30006201)

Project: Research project

Project Details


The Effect of Owner-Dog Exercise on Return Rates of Shelter Dogs (ASUF 30006201) The Effect of Owner-Dog Exercise on Return Rates of Shelter Dogs The purpose of this study is to assess the ability of an exercise program to improve the Human-Animal bond and thus decrease return rates of dogs to shelters. The study will evaluate the effects of an owner-dog exercise program on the development of a social bond between the owner and the newly adopted dog. The specific aims of the proposed study are to evaluate the effect of the owner-dog exercise program on a) return rates of adopted dogs back to the shelter, b) indicators of dog health, c) behavioral measures of dog wellbeing and compatibility with the human home including absence of problem behavior d) the level of attachment of the new owner to the dog and the level of stress associated with acquiring and living with the new dog. We predict that owner-dog pairs that are assigned to the exercise program will have lower return rates, improved well-being, and a higher attachment between owners and dogs compared to the pairs that are assigned to the control condition. Furthermore, we predict that owners, who engage in more exercise with their dogs, as measured by the pedometers, will have lower return rates. Alternatively, if the benefit of the exercise program lies predominantly in the social support offered by the program, and is not intrinsic to its exercise component, then all participants in the exercise group, regardless of the actual amount of exercise logged, will show similar levels of improvement and similar return rates. The results from this proposed study will be used to develop a more thorough understanding of the Human-Animal bond, its relationship to the elimination of owner surrenders at animal shelters, and the form of intervention that can most effectively and efficiently foster this bond. The following diagram depicts the line of research that starts with the proposed study and leads to a significant reduction in return rates in animal shelters across the US.
Effective start/end date2/1/147/31/15


  • American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation (AKCCHF): $12,960.00


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