Dog Welfare, Well-Being and Behavior: Considerations for Selection, Evaluation and Suitability for Animal-Assisted Therapy

Winkle, Melissa, Johnson, Amy and Mills, Daniel (2020) Dog Welfare, Well-Being and Behavior: Considerations for Selection, Evaluation and Suitability for Animal-Assisted Therapy. Animals, 10 (11). ISSN 2076-2615

Full content URL: https://doi.org/10.3390/ani10112188

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Dog Welfare, Well-Being and Behavior: Considerations for Selection, Evaluation and Suitability for Animal-Assisted Therapy
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Abstract

Health care and human service providers may include dogs in formal intervention settings to positively impact human physical, cognitive and psychosocial domains. Dogs working within this context are asked to cope with a multitude of variables including settings, populations, activities, and schedules. In this article, the authors highlight how both the preparation and operation of dogs within animal-assisted therapy (AAT) differs from less structured animal-assisted activities (AAA) and more exclusive assistance animal work; the authors highlight the gaps in our knowledge in this regard, and propose an ethically sound framework for pragmatic solutions. This framework also emphasizes the need for good dog welfare to safeguard all participants. If dogs are not properly matched to a job or handler, they may be subjected to unnecessary stress, anxiety, and miscommunication that can lead to disinterest in the work, overt problematic behavioral or health outcomes, or general unsuitability. Such issues can have catastrophic outcomes for the AAT. The authors propose standards for best practices for selection, humane-based preparation and training, and ongoing evaluation to ensure the health, welfare and well-being of dogs working in AAT, which will have concomitant benefits for clients and the professionalism of the field.

Keywords:welfare, well-being, behavior, shelter, companion animals, dogs, training/positive reinforcement training, evaluation
Subjects:D Veterinary Sciences, Agriculture and related subjects > D390 Veterinary Sciences not elsewhere classified
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
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ID Code:43647
Deposited On:26 Jan 2021 11:15

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