Heartbreaking Video Captures Shelter Dog Overwhelmed With Kennel Stress

When you picture an animal shelter, what initial thoughts flood your mind? Loud barking noises from hopeful dogs anticipating to be adopted? Visitors walking up and down the shelter aisles as they peer into one kennel after another? Dogs starved of adequate socialization because they spend most of their time confined to a single space? To be fair, your assumptions aren’t further from the truth. (Watch video below)

Heartbreaking Video Captures Shelter Dog Overwhelmed With Kennel Stress

There’s no denying that shelters are safe havens for dogs, particularly those rescued from unimaginable circumstances while living on their streets or with their not-so-humane owners. However, the shelter environment can’t be compared to the stable, peaceful nature of a real home, which is what all kenneled pups long for. Such an environment is even much harder for dogs who once had a home but found themselves surrendered to the shelter.

Dogs, like human beings, thrive or crumble mentally depending on the state of their environment. While shelters do their very best to enrich the lives of their canine residents, the heartbreaking reality is that, with time, the shelter environment does take a toll on a dog’s emotional and mental well-being.

Thumper — a dog currently available for fostering at the Valley Animal Center in California — knows this reality too well. She is among the countless shelter dogs battling kennel stress (watch her video below), which manifests differently from one dog to another. 

Signs Of Kennel Stress in Dogs 

Heartbreaking Video Captures Shelter Dog Overwhelmed With Kennel Stress

Dogs respond differently to kennel stress. Every shelter pup is unique, meaning how one dog reacts to the overwhelming kennel environment may not be the same as the other stressed dog in the next kennel. That said, here are nine common kennel stress symptoms that you’re likely to notice while visiting the shelter or a boarding facility:

  • Pacing back and forth inside the kennel 
  • Circling repetitively inside their kennel
  • Curling up in a corner without moving
  • Excessive barking or whining 
  • Jumping repetitively 
  • Floor licking 
  • Aggression 
  • Shivering/ shaking
  • Bed chewing 

With Thumper, shelter staff at the Valley Animal Center noticed she often circles inside her kennel repetitively, a telltale indication of her struggle with kennel stress. Findings by a research team from Arizona State University (ASU) established that spending just one night away from the shelter can significantly reduce the levels of Cortisol — better known as the stress hormone  — in a kenneled dog. This goes to show how crucial fostering is as far as offering relief to a dog affected by kennel stress is concerned. 


Kennel stress can take a toll on dogs in many ways. Some may become withdrawn and anxious, while others might exhibit signs of aggression or repetitive behaviors like how Thumper is circling in her kennel. Every dog reacts differently, making it crucial to recognize and address their unique needs to help them find comfort and peace. The longer they stay at a shelter, the tougher it is on their mental health. Thumper is currently only available as foster to adopt since she is awaiting x-rays for her neck. #shelterdog #animalshelter #fypシ゚viral #fypage #viral #blowthisup #adoptdontshop #dogsoftiktok #fyppppppppppppppppppppppp #kennel #stress #sad #shelterdog

♬ original sound – NBC’s The Voice – NBC’s The Voice

What Is Kennel Stress?  

A 2021 study on animal behavior published in the ScienceDirect Journal describes kennel stress as the emotional and mental strain that shelter dogs experience due to prolonged confinement to the shelter kennel. So, if you’ve ever wondered, “Do dogs get stressed in kennels?” or “Are kennels stressful for dogs?” the short answer is yes, a resounding yes. 

Kennel stress in shelter dogs worsens the longer a pup stays at the shelter without getting adopted. Some of the dogs brought to a shelter were used to a particular daily routine and being in a familiar, peaceful home environment. Others come to the shelter hoping to soon capture the hearts of a potential adopter, only for days and months to go by without them finding their forever family.

Heartbreaking Video Captures Shelter Dog Overwhelmed With Kennel Stress
(Photo Credit: Rob Bach | Pexels)

Being in a chaotic environment with too many strange sights and scents, coupled with irregular routines, limited human interaction, and a deep-seated desperation to be part of a loving family, results in many shelter dogs developing increased anxiety and stress levels.

Unfortunately, kennel stress suppresses the true personality of a shelter pup. Even the most perfect adoptable dog may exhibit negative behaviors, putting off potential adopters. This is why it’s a good idea to give that fearful or shy shelter pup a chance; their endearing traits often come out once they’re out of the stressful kennel environment. To add to that, prolonged kennel stress can also compromise a shelter dog’s immune system, putting them at risk of recurring illnesses. 

Can You Foster Thumper?

Heartbreaking Video Captures Shelter Dog Overwhelmed With Kennel Stress

Sweet Thumper is in need of a foster home as she awaits to undergo neck x-rays. Being under foster care will go a long way in helping her decompress from the upsetting kennel environment and give her an opportunity to experience what it truly means to be part of a loving, peaceful household, albeit temporarily. If you would like to foster Thumper, please reach out to Valley Animal Center for more details. 

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