Laboratory dogs spend at least 10 consecutive days confined individually in restricted environment to measure diet digestibility. This can compromise well-being and lead to abnormal behaviors, such as stereotypes or undesirable behavior (coprophagy). Regarding this, environmental enrichment in laboratory dogs can reduce stress and contribute to their activities, decreasing leisure time, and improving their well-being.
We aimed to evaluate the behavior of experimental kennel dogs with and without environmental enrichment during the period of twenty days.
Eight 6-year-old Beagle dogs were housed individually in concrete kennel with 4.7 meters in length and 2.22 meters in width. The kennels contained a water ad libitum and rubber mat for the dogs’ rest. The experiment was carried out over a period of 20 days: the first 10 days without enrichment, in which the dogs were fed in conventional stainless steel pots. In the following 10 days, environmental enrichment was used with PetBall® (PetGames - São Paulo, Brazil) for food. The dogs were evaluated by cameras (AXIS, 3004-v) installed in points of the kennel where dogs could be fully visualized and monitored for 15 hours a day, totaling 60 hours of monitoring. The behaviors recorded were: walking, eating, coprophagy, exploratory, lying, standing, sitting, sleeping, and social interaction.
There was an increase in feeding time and exploratory behavior (p<0.05), on the other hand, the behavior of coprophagy decreased (p<0.05) in dogs that had environmental enrichment included.
Feeding dogs with PetBall® increases exploratory behavior and decreases coprophagy in laboratory dogs.