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Effects of dogs' visits to a public exhibition

By Vanda Marnoto, Gonçalo G. Pereira, Sara Fragoso, Ana Faria, Sandra Soares, Florbela Elias, Rita Santos, Márcia Silva, Sónia Saraiva, Ana Santos, Leonor Galhardo

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Outdoor activities with dogs are known to be physically and mentally beneficial to them and their owners, but less is known about their circulation in public spaces. This study aimed to understand the effects of dog-owner dyad’s visits to an interactive exhibition on the dogs’ behaviour and the perceptions of owners, visitors, and staff. 38 dog-owner dyads were studied in four rooms (Angry Birds, Dòing, Explora and Access) over eight periods of 90 minutes during which animals’ behaviour was sampled, and questionnaires were filled out by owners, visitors, and staff. Results showed that a very high percentage of owners and more than half of the visitors and staff acknowledged benefits for dyads, with a great majority not feeling disturbed by the presence of the dogs. Only 6% of visitors mentioned less tolerance to dogs in this space, exclusively associated with their own beliefs and apprehensions. Dogs’ behaviour was characterised by 44% of the time in managing surrounding stimuli (stress management), 28% in neutral behaviour, 27% in interactions with humans, dogs, and the environment, and merely 1% in the expression of avoid/fear specific patterns. Training promoted more displaced activities and interaction with owners in less favourable contexts for possible control, coordination, and reassurance. As expected, dogs’ behaviour varied with rooms, showing higher reactivity in the more dynamic one (Angry Birds). Calm and well-managed dogs’ behaviour is likely to have promoted the perception of non-disturbance by other people. In conclusion, well-behaved dogs may visit public spaces promoting a higher quality of dog-human interactions.


Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date 2022
Publication Title Pet Behaviour Science
Volume 12
Pages 11-30
ISBN/ISSN 2445-2874
DOI 10.21071/pbs.vi12.14035
URL https://www.uco.es/ucopress/ojs/index.php/pet/article/view/14035
Language English
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal roles
  2. Animal visitation programs
  3. Dogs
  4. Human-animal interactions
  5. Mammals
  6. open access
  7. Pets and companion animals
  8. Stress
  1. open access