Standard on Exercise and Socialization for Canines


University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Standard on Exercise and Socialization of Canines



The standards and procedures described below provide guidance to all researchers and animal handlers for the exercise and socialization of canines at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ("UNC-Chapel Hill" or "University") according to current Animal Welfare Act (AWA) Regulations and the recommendations in the current edition of the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (Guide). The space available to individual dogs at UNC-Chapel Hill will meet or exceed the space requirements calculated by the formula in the AWA regulations.

Scope of Applicability

This Standard applies to all personnel engaged in the care, exercise, and socialization needs of canines housed at UNC-Chapel Hill.

The UNC-Chapel Hill Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) expects that anyone involved in animal work at the University will comply with this Standard. Requests for exceptions to this Standard must be reviewed and approved by the IACUC.


The requirements of the AWA Regulations and the recommendations of the Guide provide a flexible framework for institutions to design their approach to meeting the exercise and socialization needs of dogs used in biomedical research. UNC-Chapel Hill has selected two basic approaches that both utilize the environment of the primary enclosure (e.g., pen or run) to satisfy the exercise and socialization provisions under the AWA Regulations and the Guide simultaneously.

Option 1

Pair housing of dogs will be used when the compatibility of pairs can be reasonably assured from vendor supplied information or from behavioral observations by the UNC-Chapel Hill Division of Comparative Medicine or other experienced personnel, and when pair housing is compatible with the scientific use of the animals. When dogs are housed in compatible pairs, the pen/run space will provide at least the sum of 100% of the space allocated to each dog by the AWA formula. (This formula is the length of the dog from the tip of its nose to the base of its tail plus six inches squared divided by 144 yielding the enclosure size in square feet.) Male and female dogs may be housed together for breeding according to an approved protocol or for socialization. Males and females paired only to provide social housing must be separated during estrus to prevent inadvertent breeding. In these circumstances, experienced personnel should check as frequently as necessary to monitor for the onset of proestrus to allow the removal of the female until the end of estrus. Records of estrus cycle monitoring must be maintained for IACUC review.

Option 2

Singly housing dogs in pens/runs that provide 200% of the space that is required for the dog according to the AWA formula to satisfy the AWA exercise requirement is acceptable if pair housing is not feasible due to scientific, behavioral, or disease control reasons. The pens/runs should be arranged to afford the dogs the opportunity for visual, auditory, and olfactory contact with conspecifics.


A dog may be housed under conditions that do not conform to the above options by veterinary directive for the benefit of the dog's health, condition, or wellbeing. In these cases, the exemption may not be granted for a period of greater than 30 days unless the basis for the exemption is a permanent condition. In the case of exemptions, documentation must reflect the reason for space limited housing.  Exercise for animals in space limited housing is provided at least daily by leash walks or in a pen at least the size of Option 2 above, unless directed otherwise by the veterinarian based on the animal’s medical condition. 

The use of cages for dog housing along with a defined exercise program, although permitted under the AWA regulations, is not utilized within the UNC-Chapel Hill program of veterinary care as a routine method

All other requests for exceptions to this Standard must be reviewed and approved by the IACUC.


Compatibility: The ability to exist together without problems or conflict

Related Requirements

External Regulations and Consequences

University Policies, Standards, and Procedures

Contact Information

Contact Information Table
Subject Contact Telephone
IACUC Protocol Office of Animal Care and Use 919-966-5569
Husbandry Division of Comparative Medicine 919-962-5335
Veterinary Services Division of Comparative Medicine 919-966-2609

Important Dates

  • Effective Date and title of Approver: January, 2013; UNC IACUC; December 2022 IACUC;
  • Revision and Review Dates, Change notes, title of Reviewer or Approver: Revised July, 2013; Revised April, 2015; Revised: May, 2017; Revised: July, 2018; Transferred to new standards template and updated contact information; UNC IACUC

Approved by: UNC IACUC

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Article ID: 132198
Thu 4/8/21 9:26 PM
Wed 2/14/24 11:49 AM
Effective Date
If the date on which this document became/becomes enforceable differs from the Origination or Last Revision, this attribute reflects the date on which it is/was enforcable.
12/06/2022 12:00 AM
Issuing Officer
Name of the document Issuing Officer. This is the individual whose organizational authority covers the policy scope and who is primarily responsible for the policy.
Issuing Officer Title
Title of the person who is primarily responsible for issuing this policy.
Vice Chancellor
Last Review
Date on which the most recent document review was completed.
10/18/2023 12:00 AM
Last Revised
Date on which the most recent changes to this document were approved.
12/06/2022 12:00 AM
Next Review
Date on which the next document review is due.
10/18/2024 12:00 AM
Date on which the original version of this document was first made official.
01/01/2013 12:00 AM
Responsible Unit
School, Department, or other organizational unit issuing this document.
Research-Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee