Battersea launches UK’s first ‘Siesta Time’ for dogs
Enter Battersea Dogs & Cats Home’s kennels between 12 and 1pm and you can hear a pin drop. You certainly won’t hear barking but perhaps the odd snore as hundreds of homeless canines enjoy an afternoon siesta.
The world famous rescue has taken a tip from the continent and introduced a daily ‘Siesta Time’ to reduce the stress levels of its residents.
‘Siesta Time’ is a golden hour in Battersea’s kennels where the lights are turned off, soothing lullabies are turned on, and all staff and volunteers must adhere to the ‘do not disturb’ mantra. It is the ultimate calming and relaxation period for the dogs’ that struggle to get shut-eye, enabling the most worried Battersea dogs to doze in contentment.
The world famous charity conducted observational research in 2015 that tested and measured the stress levels of dogs’ when they first arrived at rescue centre. Ali Taylor, Head of Canine Behaviour Training at Battersea explains:
“Often dogs are at their most stressed when they first arrive at Battersea. Kennels can be a very alien environment for a dog, especially if it’s a pet that’s come from a family home. We’ll try anything we can to help minimise their anxiety during their stay with us – which is how ‘Siesta Time’ came about. If you’re a dog owner you might notice how often your dog will sleep during the day, but the dogs here struggle to relax when they’re surrounded by so much noise in the kennels.”
Battersea measured the impact of ‘Siesta Time’ based on three factors – barking, jumping up and stress-related behaviours. Staff observed how dogs’ behaved before and after ‘Siesta Time’, noticing after just a few days the positive effect the midday kip in kennels was having.
Ali continues: “It’s amazing what a small but practical idea can do for the welfare of our dogs. We’ve definitely noticed a change in our kennels, there’s less barking and the dogs are generally a lot calmer because of it. They know when ‘Siesta Time’ is coming and many of them are already in their beds before the lights are off! We even rehomed more dogs in January this year than we have in any other month over the last two years. That might not directly be because of ‘Siesta Time’, but the programme is certainly helping our dogs’ relax and that ultimately means they’ll find loving homes faster.”
Battersea has now rolled out ‘Siesta Time’ in most of its London kennels and will be trialling the same in its Old Windsor and Brands Hatch centre’s in the coming months.
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Notes to editors
- Established in 1860, Battersea Dogs & Cats Home aims never to turn away a dog or cat in need of our help, caring for them until their owners or loving new homes can be found, no matter how long it takes. We are champions for, and supporters of, vulnerable dogs and cats, determined to create lasting changes for animals in our society.
- Since it was founded, Battersea has rescued, reunited and rehomed over 3.1 million dogs and cats.
- In 2015 the Home cared for over 8000 dogs and cats.
- Battersea cares for an average of 260 dogs and 220 cats across its three centres at any one time.
- There is no time limit on how long an animal can stay at the charity but the average stay for a dog is 30 days and 22 days for a cat.
- A team of over 1200 volunteers help at Battersea’s three centres, in roles including dog and cat socialising, gardening, admin support and giving talks in the community.
- In addition to the site in South West London, the Home also has two other centres based at Old Windsor, Berkshire and Brands Hatch, Kent.
- Follow Battersea on Twitter @battersea_ or facebook.com/Battersea