Studies with humans and some other animal species have shown that sleep is compromised when the presence of external factors such as light, sound, and temperature surpass normal levels. This study investigated the effects of these environmental conditions on 13 kennelled laboratory dogs, assessing whether each variable interfered with their sleep behaviour and/or increased stress responses, which could further compromise sleep quality. The behaviour of dogs was video recorded for eight months. Diurnal and nocturnal behaviour were recorded, along with naturally occurring levels of temperature, light and sound in the dogs’ kennel environment. Faecal cortisol metabolites (FCM), from samples collected every morning, were used to monitor the dogs’ adrenocortical activity. GLMM models and non-parametric tests were conducted to evaluate the relationship between sleeping patterns, environmental variables, and stress on the studied dogs. Nocturnal sleep decreased in response to increases in temperature and in day light duration. No effects of sound and FCM levels on dogs’ sleep were observed. However, diurnal sleep was affected by sound and FCM levels, decreasing when both factors increased. Additionally, noisier days increased stress responses, especially in male dogs. Increased FCM levels were associated with changes in the diurnal behaviour of dogs; for example, decreased activity. The decrease in daily activities and increased physiological stress responses could be associated with maladaptation to the environment, which could indicate poor welfare. Our study suggests that mitigating the impact of environmental conditions in the kennels could improve sleep quality and the overall quality of life of the dogs.
- Environmental conditions
- Laboratory dogs