Battersea launches UK’s first ‘Siesta Time’ for dogs
23 MARCH 2016
Enter our 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.
We have taken a tip from the continent and introduced a daily ‘Siesta Time’ to reduce the stress levels of our residents.
‘Siesta Time’ is a golden hour in our 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.
We conducted observational research in 2015 that tested and measured the stress levels of dogs’ when they first arrived with us. Ali Taylor, Head of Canine Behaviour Training 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.”
We 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.”
We have now rolled out ‘Siesta Time’ in most of our London kennels and will be trialling the same in our Old Windsor and Brands Hatch centre’s in the coming months.