Background & Aims


Dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) are one of the most popular pets and are known to form close bonds with their human companions. However, a large number of dogs are being abandoned or relinquished to animal shelters every year. The rehoming procedure can be incredibly stressful to a dog, because of the social isolation from former attachment figures, and the novel surroundings at animal shelters. Long-term stress is proven to have negative effects on animal health and behaviour, but the specific effects that the rehoming process has on dogs’ welfare, behaviour and cognitive processes in both the short and long term are not fully known.


This study aimed to investigate how long-term stress associated with relinquishment affects dogs in both the short and long-term, by comparing the cognitive abilities, sleep patterns and long-term stress levels of rehomed dogs, non-rehomed dogs, as well as dogs that are currently in the process of rehoming.