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Stanton Foundation

The Stanton Foundation (www.thestantonfoundation.org) awarded $1.98M to Dr. Candace Croney to study the welfare of dogs and puppies in commercial breeding kennels. The overall goal is to promote culture change in commercial dog breeding so as to support sustainable pet ownership. To achieve this goal, the research team aims to generate new scientific knowledge on dog behavior, welfare and management in commercial kennels, translating it effectively to breeders and the greater community to inform them about best practices and policy.

A focus of this research is facilitating new standards for the care of well-being of dogs with the end goal of successful rehoming when breeding careers are over. These funded studies will evaluate whether risk assessment predicts rehoming outcomes and whether, and to what extent, maternal fear and stress impact litter sizes, puppy health and behavior. These studies currently are the first and only ones that directly examine the welfare of dogs used for commercial breeding on-site at their home kennels. Welfare of rehomed dogs will be furthered evaluated directly and via owner reports.

The research team will prioritize outreach and engagement to quickly evoke change, including extension publications and other avenues for engagement. New and existing partnerships with dog breeders and pet industry leadership organizations will help the team to leverage existing engagement platforms, allowing us to directly translate research outcomes to key target audiences (dog breeders, veterinarians, shelter personnel, policy makers and pet industry stakeholders).

Featured Research

Do You See What I See? Evaluating Socialization in Commercial Breeding Dogs

Breeding dog responses to their familiar caretaker

Breeding dog responses to their familiar caretaker

Breeding dog responses to unfamiliar observer

Breeding dog responses to unfamiliar observer

Concerns exist that dog breeders operating large-scale commercial kennels do not socialize their dogs. Our ongoing studies focused on assessing risks of transition problems during rehoming of commercial breeding dogs appear to provide insight into differences between breeders' observations of and experiences with their dogs and those of unfamiliar people interacting with the same dogs. As suggested by Dr. Candace Croney during the 2018 Purdue Canine Welfare Science Forum, breeders who report working to socialize their dogs and those reporting concerns about under-socialized dogs may all be representing their experiences accurately. Further evaluation of breeder understanding of socialization, its importance to adult dogs as well as puppies, current socialization practices, and their effects is needed to enhance behavioral well-being in commercial breeding dogs. The current studies also reiterate the importance of objective methods and metrics for documenting and assessing socialization. Click here for more information.


Poster Presentations

Poster Presentations

Congratulations to Croney Lab Research Assistants Mikayla Small and Andy Pietraniec who won 3rd place for their poster “Effect of Live and Recorded Observations on Shelter Dogs’ Response to Stranger Approach” at the campus-wide Undergraduate Research Conference held April 10 at the Purdue Memorial Union.

Poster Presentations

Master's student Lynda Mugenda presented her poster “Refining On-site Canine Welfare Assessment Evaluating the Reliability of Field Instantaneous Dog Observation (FIDO) Scoring” at the annual PVM Research Day held April 9, which highlights research in the Purdue College of Veterinary Medicine.


Current Research

Welfare of Dogs

Welfare of Breeding Dogs

The welfare of dogs housed in commercial breeding facilities is of great public concern.  However, little research has been performed to examine the welfare status of the dogs on-site at kennels, characterize the nature and extent of welfare problems experienced, and explore solutions. We are developing tools to evaluate the behavioral and physical welfare of commercial breeding dogs and create practical recommendations to improve their lives and those of their puppies.

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Feline Welfare

Feline Welfare

Each year millions of cats are confined to cages in veterinary hospitals, shelters, and biomedical research facilities. We have investigated factors that impact how cats’ respond to confinement including aspects of the cage and housing room as well as individual differences in coping style and the quality of human-cat interactions. This research aims to identify the highest quality environment to promote cat welfare.

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Agricultural Animal Bioethics

Agricultural Animal Bioethics

While science addresses the question of what can be done with animals to produce food and fiber, ethics addresses the question of what "ought" to be done. Training of leaders in U.S. animal agriculture to better understand and facilitate resolutions on publicly debated issues pertaining to agricultural animal bioethics is critically needed to adequately prepare young scientists and future animal industry leaders in this important trans-disciplinary subject area.

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Previous Research

Farm Animal Cognition and Welfare

pigs

pig realizing shapes

pig eating out of cup 

Pig cognition

Cognitive processes such as learning, memory, and problem-solving are critically important for animals to adapt to the environments in which they are kept. Because the pig’s psychological processes may impact its physical well-being in a given environment, they have implications for animal production. For example, a pig’s ability to learn and remember interactions with people raises concerns that if their experiences and memories of those are unpleasant, they may be fearful or distressed and suffer accordingly. Likewise, production environments that are relatively barren may provide pigs with inadequate mental stimulation, which may cause them to experience psychological distress or suffering in the form of boredom, frustration, and other unpleasant emotional states. Our research has focused on the cognitive abilities of pigs and their potential applications to their care and management. We have shown that pigs are capable of fairly complex cognitive processes, such as operant learning, visual and olfactory discriminations and concept formation. 

Project members: Candace Croney (PI)

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