Michael Hennessy

Man in green jacket smiles in a field

Dr. Michael Hennessy is a professor in Psychology at Wright State University. There he studies stress and behavior in both basic and applied settings.

In his applied work, Dr. Hennessy uses principles derived from basic research to find ways to reduce neuroendocrine and behavioral stress responses of dogs confined in animal shelters. One goal is to improve the welfare of these dogs. Even in well-run, modern animal shelters, dogs are confronted with an array of psychological stressors known to elevate stress hormone levels. Therefore, with the help of local shelters, he and his lab are studying ways that interventions might moderate hormonal and behavioral responses to stress. A second goal is to improve adoption success. Dogs adopted from shelters often exhibit behavioral problems such as “separation anxiety.” Behavior problems frequently result in dogs being returned to the shelter. They hypothesize that many of these problems stem from stressful experiences inherent in confinement. They hope to improve adoption success by reducing the stressfulness of the shelter for dogs that find themselves there.

More information can be found on Dr. Hennessy's lab website, from which this bio was adapted.