In a UK first, Battersea Dogs and Cats Home has introduced ‘Siesta Time’ in its kennels between 12 and 1pm.
Taking a tip from the rest of the continent, Battersea has decided to use siestas to reduce the stress levels of its residents. During ‘Siesta Time’ lights are turned off, soothing lullabies are turned on, and all staff and volunteers must adhere to the ‘do not disturb’ mantra.
In 2015 the charity conducted its own research measuring the dogs’ stress levels when they first arrived at the centre and the impact of ‘Siesta Time’, which was measured on three factors – barking, jumping up and stress-related behaviours. Staff noticed the positive effect the midday kip was having after just days.
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.”
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 centres in the coming months.