Is making a video of a dog in your shelter or rescue group worth the trouble? Absolutely, says a recent study published in the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare.
In the study, which was conducted in the UK, 735 people viewed video and photos of four shelter dogs: Two were Staffordshire Terriers, representing dogs who are usually more difficult to find homes for, and the other two were a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel mix and a Poodle, representing a type of dog usually in high demand.
Here’s what they learned when they analyzed the viewers’ reactions (paragraph breaks added to improve readability):
Our findings indicate that viewing dogs in videos as opposed to photographs tended to improve participants’ perception of the dog’s behavioral traits. Dogs viewed via video were considered to be more trainable, intelligent, friendly, and gentle and less dominant, aggressive, and unsociable than when they were viewed via photograph. The perceived behavioral traits of a dog are important factors when adopting an animal. These traits, which are important in a potential companion animal, are perceived as being more evident in dogs viewed via video than via photograph.
The more positive portrayal of dogs via video could be suggested to indicate that this form of media is likely to be most beneficial when advertising dogs for adoption.
It is important to note that the positive effect of viewing dogs in videos was evident in both the dogs of the more desirable breeds—the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel-Chihuahua cross and the Toy Poodle—and dogs of the less desirable and frequently stigmatized breed—the Staffordshire Bull Terrier. For the majority of the traits discussed, the Staffordshire Bull Terriers were perceived more positively in the video than in the photograph.
So, is it time to get out the camera and start making videos of your long-stay dogs? Let’s look at the implications of the study.
First, they didn’t track actual adoption rates, nor did they analyze the qualities of an effective video. In their research, they simply looked at how people’s impressions of the dogs were influenced by whether they viewed them in still photos or video.
From an adoption marketing perspective, however, the likelihood seems high that people searching on channels like AdoptAPet.com and Petfinder, or viewing pets on social media, would have greater interest in a pet they see featured in a video than in a still photo.
Where video really shone was in positively affecting how people viewed the dogs’ behavior when seeing them in video. Focusing on video for long-stay pets would appear to be a winning strategy, particularly if a pet’s behavior is appealing, or if the dog is likely to be perceived as having behavior problems.
As the study authors concluded, “(V)iewing dogs in videos as opposed to photographs tends to result in more positive perceptions of the dogs’ behavioral traits…. (T)he findings are suggestive that greater use of video by rehoming shelters to advertise their animals may provide an effective method for promoting adoption.”
Pyzer C, Clarke L, Montrose VT. Effects of Video Footage Versus Photographs on Perception of Dog Behavioral Traits. J Appl Anim Welf Sci. 2017;20(1):42-51.