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Effect of Providing New Owners of Rehomed Greyhounds with Written Information about Preventing Canine Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety or separation-related behaviour (SA/SRB) reflects a substantial welfare problem for dogs and causes concern for owners, which can lead to dogs being relinquished or returned to rehoming organisations. I aimed to determine whether providing new adopters of ex-racing greyhounds with information designed to reduce the risk of SA/SRB would reduce the occurrence of SA/SRB reported by owners at multiple time points; and to investigate factors associated with SA/SRB in newly rehomed greyhounds. Subjects were greyhounds rehomed through New Zealand Greyhounds as Pets during a 1-year period (n = 297). Owners were assigned, within 2 days of adoption, alternately to a control group, who received an email welcoming them to the greyhound community, or a treatment group, who received an email including a SA/SRB handout with preventative advice. Links to an online questionnaire regarding SA/SRB, and other factors suggested in the literature to be associated with SA/SRB, were sent to adopters 1-, 3-, and 6-months post-adoption. Emailing owners preventative information about SA/SRB had no significant impact on the proportion of greyhounds reported to exhibit SA/SRB in their new homes. There was no significant difference in the prevalence of owner-reported SA/SRB at 1, 3, or 6 months (20%, 18%, 17%). The prevalence of SA/SRB overall was less than usually reported for rehomed shelter dogs, and for pet dogs generally. SA/SRB was associated with an increased risk of the greyhound being returned to GAP. There was no significant difference between treatment and control groups regarding owner behaviour in relation to the advice, and generally more than half of all owners acted in a manner consistent with the recommendations. Owners were most likely to practice low-key greetings, and low-key departures, but only low-key departures appeared to be protective against SA/SRB. Factors associated with the occurrence of SA/SRB changed substantially between the 1-month, and 3- and 6-month time points. Differences in the predictive models produced for the 1-, 3-, and 6-month data, and the lack of any effect of the preventative treatment, is likely associated with the multifactorial nature of SA/SRB. Further investigation of the particular aspects of advice that are protective for SA/SRB is warranted.
Type of thesis
Thomas, J. B. (2018). Effect of Providing New Owners of Rehomed Greyhounds with Written Information about Preventing Canine Separation Anxiety (Thesis, Master of Clinical Animal Behaviour (MCAB)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/11860
The University of Waikato
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