Behavioural synchronization

While this study showed no difference in how much rehomed and control dogs synchronize with their owners, shelter dogs have been observed to synchronize less with their caretakers compared to pet dogs and their owners. However, these shelter dogs were defined as dogs “who live in social isolation and are deprived of extended contact with humans”, whereas this study included only rehomed dogs defined as “privately rehomed or obtained from shelters”. The differences in the behavioural synchronization between rehomed dogs and control dogs compared to shelter dogs could lie in differences in affiliation between the dog and the human, depending on if the human is a caretaker or owner.

Contact-seeking behaviour

No significant differences were found between the rehomed and control group in terms of contact-seeking behaviour. In line with these findings, a previous study have reported no difference in physical contact with the owner between rehomed dogs and dogs who have not been rehomed. 

Long-term stress and physical activity

No significant difference in long-term stress was found between rehomed and control dogs. Studies have shown that the rehoming process can induce a positive effect on their welfare, and one study found that hair cortisol concentrations decreased with 83% after 6 months of being rehomed. No difference in long-term cortisol levels between rehomed and control dogs indicates that after being rehomed, dogs stabilize from being potentially stressed in a shelter. In addition, contrary to studies showing that rehomed dogs have excessively high activity according to their owners, no significant difference was found in activity between the rehomed dogs and the control dogs in present study.

The dog-owner relationship

No significant difference was found in the Monash Dog-Owner Relationship Scale when comparing the rehomed dogs and the control dogs. A study found that shelter dogs have a high demand for social contact with humans, and dogs who are handled by humans can quickly form an attachment to these humans. This might indicate that when shelter dogs are being rehomed, they are fast in forming an attachment to their new owners, resulting in a relationship equally valued as with a dog from a breeder.

Dogs and their owners’ personalities

Rehomed dogs scored significantly higher in the DPQ facet “fear of handling” and significantly lower in the facet “playfulness” compared to control dogs. A study found that in a “strange situation” test, rehomed dogs played significantly less than control dogs. However, since the dogs’ experience in previous homes were unknown for this study, this effect on rehomed dogs’ personalities cannot be excluded.

In addition, owners who own a rehomed dog scored higher in the trait “agreebleness” than owners who currently own a control dog. These findings are in line with a study that found that women who own rehomed dogs have higher scores in “agreeableness” compared to women obtaining dogs from breeders. Adopting dogs has been ranked as the most ethical method to obtain a dog, and the reason for adoption is sometimes based on the desire to help an animal.


All of the results should however be interpreted with caution since no correction for multiple testing was made.