In a laboratory setting, it is important to provide housing that allows expression in a wide range of species-typical behaviors while also meeting research goals. Substandard housing can lead to aggression, stereotyping, and anxiety. Understanding the animal’s natural behavior enables us to build quality environments that meet physical, behavioral, and social needs. Proper design is critical for improved health and welfare, both of which improve scientific validity.
Making changes to current housing standards can be challenging especially since facilities may be at very different levels of current housing. Work from where you are currently to make improvements. Furthermore, before implementing housing changes, be sure to consult the relevant scientific literature and consider the requirements of your scientific model. Each facility may require an individual approach to increasing housing standards as much as possible.
Staff working with dogs should be properly trained to recognize dog behavior signs (normal & abnormal), implement low-stress handling, and enact positive reinforcement training. Consulting with a behaviorist and treating dogs as individuals is highly recommended.
Note: assess enrichment use & rotate preferred items regularly as some animals may find new enrichments aversive, especially without proper introduction or training (e.g., leash walks or pools).