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Therapy Dog Welfare Revisited: A Review of the Literature

By L. M. Glenk, S. Foltin

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During the past decade, the field of human-animal interaction(s) research has been characterized by a significant increase in scientific findings. These data have contributed to our current understanding of how humans may benefit from contact with animals. However, the animal experience of these interactions is still an under-researched area. This paper addresses the welfare of dogs who participate in animal-assisted interventions (AAIs) to improve health in human recipients. This paper builds on previous work by Glenk (2017) and provides an updated review of the literature on therapy dog welfare published from 2017-2021. New advances in scientific methodology, such as the determination of salivary oxytocin, breath rate and tympanic membrane temperature, are analyzed regarding their value and limitations for research in AAIs. Moreover, welfare-related social and environmental factors (e.g., freedom of choice, exploration of novel environments, inequity aversion, individual development, working experience, relationship with handler and handler skills) that profoundly influence dog perception and well-being are reviewed and discussed. Accounting for the globally increasing interest and the number of dogs utilized in AAIs, safeguarding therapy dog well-being, and identifying situations, circumstances and protocols that may challenge animal welfare remains an emerging and crucial area of scientific effort.

Publication Title Vet Sci
Volume 8
Issue 10
ISBN/ISSN 2306-7381
DOI 10.3390/vetsci8100226
Author Address Comparative Medicine, The Interuniversity Messerli Research Institute of the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, Medical University Vienna and University Vienna, 1210 Vienna, Austria.Department of Biology, University of Duisburg-Essen, 45141 Essen, Germany.
Additional Language English
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Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal-assisted interventions
  2. Canine
  3. Dogs
  4. open access
  5. Stress
  6. therapy
  7. welfare
  1. open access