Research & Scientific Organisations

Society for Companion Animal Studies

The Society for Companion Animal Studies (SCAS) (UK)was established in 1979 to promote the study of human-companion animal interactions and raise awareness of the importance of pets in society. Over the past 30 years SCAS has established itself as the leading human-animal bond organisation in the UK.

SCAS is an education charity working to support and promote the health and social benefits of interactions between people and companion animals. SCAS work focuses on four key areas:
  • Information Exchange
  • Education and Training
  • Research
  • Helping Vulnerable Groups in Society

SCAS aims are to:
  • Provide education and training on how interactions between people and companion animals can enhance the quality of life for both
  • Raise awareness of the health and well-being benefits of human-companion animal interactions
  • Influence the development of policies and practices that protect and support the human-animal bond

Animal Welfare Science Centre National Association for Search and Rescue

National Association for Search and Rescue, Inc. (NASAR) is a non-profit membership association dedicated to advancing professional, literary, and scientific knowledge in fields related to search and rescue, including search and rescue dogs. 

NASAR is comprised of thousands of paid and non-paid professionals interested in all aspects of search and rescue - the humanitarian cause of saving lives - throughout the United States and around the world. 

Response to persons in distress has long been an honourable, charitable tradition and the professionals in search and rescue have carried on this tradition of helping others by dedicating time, information, skills, equipment & funding to the relief of suffering.

NASAR's primary mission is to develop and provide professional training and certification programs for your search and rescue community.

The Centre for the Interaction of Animals and Society (CIAS) is a multi-disciplinary research centre within the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. It provides a forum for addressing the many practical and moral issues arising from the interactions of animals & society. 

The study of human-animal interactions is still a new and developing field that straddles the boundaries between traditional academic disciplines. CIAS strives for an interdisciplinary approach and the involvement of scholars and researchers from a wide variety of different backgrounds and interests.

CIA's goal is to promote understanding of human-animal interactions and relationships across a wide range of contexts including companion animals, farm animals, laboratory animals, zoo animals, and free-living wild animals. CIAS aims to:
  1. Study the positive and negative influence of people’s relationships with animals on their physical and mental health and well being.
  2. Investigate the impact of these relationships on the behaviour and welfare of the animals involved.
  3. Encourage constructive, balanced, and well-informed debate and discussion on the ethics of animal use.
  4. Use the knowledge and information gained from this work to benefit people, and promote the humane use and treatment of animals.

 Penn Vet Working Dog Centre 

Penn Vet Working Dog CenterEstablished in 2007, the Penn Vet Working Dog Center is part of the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine and serves as a National Research & Development Centre for Detection Dogs. 

With the United States national security under constant threat from attacks, detection dogs are still the best tool that we have to detect and mitigate potential threats. Search dogs are also critical for the detection of victims of natural and manmade disasters.

The organization’s goal is to increase collaborative research, scientific assessment, and shared knowledge and application of the newest scientific findings and veterinary expertise to optimize production of valuable detection dogs.

The Australian Welfare Science Centre (AWSC) is a partnership of the Victorian Department of Primary Industries, University of Melbourne, Monash University and Ohio State University.

AWSC carries out both scientific research and teaching in animal welfare science & makes important national & international contributions to animal welfare research, teaching & training.

AWSC mission is "to contribute to improved animal welfare as a world leading provider of expert information, advice and education underpinned by rigorous research”.

The International Association of Human-Animal Interaction Organizations (IAHAIO) was founded in 1990 to gather together national associations and related organizations interested in advancing the understanding and appreciation of the link between animals and humans.

465bd943f0d95465bd943f2cd8IAHAIO’s main role is to provide a co-ordinating structure between all member countries. As worldwide interest and support for this young science increases, IAHAIO's role as a communication link is essential to convey latest research findings and encourage further program development.

IAHAOI has established a series of International Awards to acknowledge contributions made by individuals or institutions in the study of the human-companion animal relationship. These include the IAHAIO "Pets in Cities" and "Distinguished ScholarAwards which are presented every 3 years.

IAHAIO’s mission is to promote research, education and sharing of information about human-animal interaction and the unique role that animals play in human well-being and quality of life to:
  • Promote new research, educational & practical development in the field of human-animal interaction.
  • Provide a forum for sharing ideas & information between IAHAIO member organisations.
  • Educate policy makers at local, national & international levels about the benefits of human-animal interaction. 
International Association of Human-Animal Interaction Organisations (IAHIO) is an international umbrella organisation for all organisations within its field. 

  • Brings together all the providers of Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT)
  • Promotes the use of Animal Assisted Therapy
  • Assists those who wish to use, research, study & work in AAT
The dog is currently the major animal being used in Animal Assisted Therapy and can called by the following titles, an Assistance Dog, a Service Dog, a Therapy Dog, a Hearing Dog, a Seeing Eye Dog, and Seizure Detection Dog along with the security and service areas.

Australian Anthrozoology Research Foundation

The term Anthrozoology comes from the Greek anthropos, meaning human and zoon meaning animal.

Established in 2011, the Australian Anthrozoology Research Foundation (AARF) is dedicated to raising and distributing funds to support scholarly research in the area of human-animal interactions.

The specific focus of the Foundation is on discovering, evaluating and refining roles for companion animals in preventing and managing human disease.

Australian Anthrozoology Research Foundation’s mission is to maximise human health through supporting scholarly research in human-animal relationships.

Objectives of the Foundation are to:
  • Increase the number of research projects and the breadth, depth and quality of scholarly activity within the field.
  • Raise awareness and credibility of the science of Anthrozoology in the academic and public realm.

For more information on field of Anthrozoology visit: www.anthrozoology.orgg
Anthrozoology Research Group
Australian Directory of Human-Animal Interaction
International Society for Anthrozoology (ISAZ)
International Association for Human Animal Interaction Organisations
Delta Society

The Companion Animal Information & Research Centre (CAIRC), based in Japan, works towards deeper knowledge and understanding of the “relationship between humans and companion animals” and towards a better environment for coexistence. CAIRC activities include:
  • Educational activities towards responsible companion animal ownership
  • Supporting research on the ‘relationship between humans and companion animals
  • Supporting the creation of ‘urban development’ to benefit humans and companion animals
  • Accumulation of international research and knowledge with regard to companion animals 

In these and other ways, CAIRC contributes to creating a society in which people and companion animals can live together more happily. CAIRC has 2 booklets to foster co-existence between humans and pets
  1. The “Property Management Support Handbook for Living in Multi-Unit Housing with Dogs and Cats” (or simply the “Property Management Support Handbook”) is intended primarily for real estate and property management companies.
  2. The “Pet Owner’s Handbook for Living in Multi-Unit Housing with Dogs and Cats” (or simply the “Pet Owner’s Handbook”) is mainly for distributing to pet owners who already live in pet-friendly multi-unit housing or will soon be moving in.
CAIRC is a nonprofit organization that was founded in Japan in 1997 with the support of Mars Japan Limited. In Oct 2000, CAIRC became an affiliate member of IAHAIO (International Association of Human-Animal Interaction Organizations).

"Cognitive scientists once spurned the dog as too domesticated to study. But now many are leaping at the chance to use man's best friend to help understand how social cognition evolved." 28 Aug 2009, SCIENCE, 325:1062-1065

The Duke Canine Cognition Centre (DCCC) is dedicated to the study of dog psychology.

In doing so it gains a window into the mind of animals as well as the evolution of our species. It also applies knowledge of dog cognition to improving programs in which dogs are bred and trained to help humans (e.g. service dogs for the disabled).

Although researchers from DCCC have been studying dog cognition for over 15 years, they are only just beginning to understand the psychology of dogs. 

They are currently studying communicative intentions, the effect of domestication of their psychology, how they form trusting relationships and weaknesses in solving problems. Because there is so much variation between different dogs this means that every dog can contribute to improving our understanding of dog psychology.

Canine Science Forum

Canine Science Forum brings together scientists with different expertise on Canines. Through enhancing communication between various fields it aims at substantiating canine biology in order to develop it as a major model for biological investigations. 
Canine Science Forum utilizes science as a source of knowledge to promote: 
  • The consolidation of an interdisciplinary field of canine biology
  • A better integration of dogs in our rapidly changing modern society 
  • Dog Science that develops non-evasive research techniques (good scientific practice)
  • To spread information on the advantageous role of dogs in our society


Dogs pick up not only on the words we say but also on our intent to communicate with them.

Recent evidence suggests that preverbal infants’ gaze following can be triggered only if an actor’s head turn is preceded by the expression of communicative intent. Such connectedness between ostensive and referential signals may be uniquely human, enabling infants to effectively respond to referential communication directed to them.

In the light of increasing evidence of dogs’ social communicative skills, an intriguing question is whether dogs’ responsiveness to human directional gestures is associated with the situational context in an infant-like manner.

Borrowing a method used in infant studies, dogs watched video presentations of a human actor turning toward one of two objects, and their eye-gaze patterns were recorded with an eye tracker.

Full-size image (45K)Results show a higher tendency of gaze following in dogs when the human’s head turning was preceded by the expression of communicative intent (direct gaze, addressing). This is the first evidence to show that:
  1. Eye-tracking techniques can be used for studying dogs’ social skills.
  2. The exploitation of human gaze cues depends on the communicatively relevant pattern of ostensive and referential signals in dogs.
These findings give further support to the existence of a functionally infant-analog social competence in this dogs. And may help to explain why dogs are so responsive to humans.  Source:10.1016/j.cub.2011.12.018

This paper was prepared by the Baker Medical Research Institute and The Centre for Public Policy, University of Melbourne, as a contribution to the furthering of discussion and research on the implications of the human companion animal bond.

Australian National People & Pets Survey 1994 demonstrated that dog and cat owners make fewer doctor visits and appear to have better health than non-pet owners. It follows that the presence of pets in a majority of Australian households entails savings in health expenditure. 
This paper provides the first preliminary estimates of these savings. 8% of GDP, over $30 billion, is spent on health care, of which 68% is government expenditure and 32% private.

Calculations indicate that the presence of pets could save between $790 million and $1.5 billion, annually, depending on whether it is assumed that only the main carers of pets enjoy health benefits, or whether other family members are assumed to benefit also. 

This paper outlines future research requirements which would enable more precise estimates of savings to be calculated. What is clear is that there is a link between pet ownership and better health and that this link may have profound implications for health policy and practice.

Duke Canine Cognition Centre - Cognitive Research with Service Dogs


A revolution in our understanding of dog cognition has occurred in the past decade, but little of this new understanding has been applied to real world problems.

Clinical studies show that service and companion dogs can have a significant positive impact on those with physical and mental disabilities. Unfortunately, there is a finite supply of service dogs and the growth potential of this supply is limited. 

The Duke Canine Cognition Centre and Canine Companion for Independence are working together to identify cognitive traits that make some dogs more successful service dogs than others.

In studying the cognitive abilities of service dogs we will both develop a better understanding of what psychological mechanism(s) successful service dogs rely on or are constrained by when helping humans.

We can then use this information to better predict which puppies will be successful service dogs – improving the success of training while increasing the potential number of service dogs available.

Mobility Dogs and Parkinson's Research 
To date research has focused primarily on pharmacological treatments for Parkinson’s.  By comparison, relatively little is known about how lifestyle-related interventions may improve the health-related quality of life of people with this chronic, neuro-degenerative condition.  

In 2010-2011 Buetow & colleagues (Assoc. Professor Stephen Buetow at Dept. of General Practice & Primary Health Care, School of Population Health) investigated the meaning and significance of companion animals to people with Parkinson’s. A paper entitled, ‘Health-related effects of pet ownership for people with Parkinson's disease: A qualitative study' is being prepared for submission to the Journal of Age & Ageing.

The ability of companion dogs compared with service dogs to improve the health and wellbeing of people with Parkinson’s has not been studied. Zakeri& Bain reported health improvements in a young woman with Parkinson's following her receipt of a pet dog. This article concludes:

"Psychosocial interventions in medicine are often met with scepticism as doctors and patients alike feel familiar with the traditional pharmacological approach. In this regard, a dog has particular advantages over many other interventions in providing both companionship, motivation to exercise and a (four-legged) therapist." 

Independence Dogs Inc., in partnership with the University of Pennsylvania's Parkinson's Disease & Movement Disorders Centre, and Smith Kline Beecham Pharmaceuticals, was the first organisation to train Parkinson's'Walker Dogs' Unfortunately there is no formal record of this collaborative project; Independence Dogs Inc., suspended operations in 2002 following the founder's death.

There are 3 key areas to address in training dogs to assist with Parkinson’s:
1. To stabilise balance and help people walk at a normal rate instead of shuffling
2. To tap on their partner’s foot to break a ‘freeze’ in movement
3. To assist appropriately following a fall, either by providing bracing support or to fetch help in the form of another person or phone

These sit alongside other skills Mobility Dogs are trained to do to provide functional assistance with everyday tasks including: retrieving dropped items and items out of reach, opening doors, pressing lift and pedestrian buttons, paying for purchases across the counter, taking shoes and socks off and more, depending on the recipient’s needs.

Mobility Dogs & Parkinson's Disease PhD Research Study 

It is proposed that three Mobility Dogs will be advance trained to specifically support the needs of people living with Parkinson’s. These will be the first Mobility Dogs trained in New Zealand for this purpose. 

Placements of Mobility Dogs with approved Parkinson’s recipients will be monitored, at 6 monthly intervals, over 18 months, 2013-2014. The researcher is interested in the lived experience of a Mobility Dog from both physical and psycho-social health perspectives. 

She is keen to meet people living with Parkinson's who may be interested in a partnership with a Mobility Dog, and follow up study. 

If you would like more information about this project contact Helen Spence, Development Director Mobility Dogs

Dogs for the Disabled: Benefits to Recipients and Welfare of the DogTop of Form 
Lane, McNicholas & Collis Applied Animal Behaviour Science Vol 59, Issue 1, pp 49-60 Aug 1998

Applied Animal Behaviour Science on ScienceDirect(Opens new window)Dogs for the Disabled UK provide trained assistance dogs to enhance the mobility and independence of people with physical disabilities.

Fifty-seven recipients of a Dog for the Disabled (90% of all recipients) took part in a questionnaire survey to assess satisfaction with their dog, commitment to the dog's welfare, and other changes in their life brought about by obtaining their dog. Subjects reported an increased sense of social integration, enhancement to self-perceived health, and an affectionate, often supportive, relationship with their dog.

Levels of satisfaction with the dog's work and the quality of the recipient–dog relationship were greater in subjects for whom the idea to have a dog was their own than in subjects who were influenced by other people to acquire a dog.

These differences were small but statistically significant and may be a useful predictor in future applicants of the success of the working relationship.

Cover imageFull-size image (28K)Service Dogs in Health Care Facilities - Bonnie Denholm - ACORN, Vol 89, Issue 4, Apr 2009, pp 757-760

Photo: Courtesy of Delta Society

Who let the dogs out? Infection control did: Utility of dogs in health care settings and infection control aspects - DiSalvo et Al. - American Journal of Infection Control, Vol 34, Issue 5, June 2006, pp301-307  

Cover imageAbstract: Research has substantiated that animals improve human health, both psychologically and physiologically. Therefore, healthcare facilities have begun to implement programs, such as the “Furry Friends Foundation,” that bring animals into the facility to improve the quality of life of patients.
When implementing these programs, consideration must be given to potential adverse events such as phobias, allergies, and particularly the possibility of zoonotic disease transmission. Santa Clara Valley Medical Centre (SCVMC) has implemented programs that incorporate animals into the healthcare setting.

This facility allows three categories of dogs to interact with their patients: Service Dogs, Therapy Dogs, and Pet Visitation Dogs by the “Furry Friends Foundation.” A blurring of the roles of the three categories of dogs occurred when these programs were put into place at SCVMC. 
The purpose of this project was to maintain these programs by clarifying the ‘policies regarding animals’, specifically dogs, in the healthcare setting. This had to take place to provide a safe and enjoyable environment for the patients and the staff.

A comprehensive table was developed to delineate the three categories of dogs and the corresponding policies. Therapy Dogs and the Visitation Animals are more restricted than Service Dogs. Both Therapy Dogs and Visitation Dogs require identification and certification of health and are excluded from certain areas of the facility, including intensive care units and isolation rooms. By complying with the current policies and regulations, the risks from these programs can be minimized. Staff should be educated on the proper terminology and procedures to prevent a blurring of the categories and roles of these animals.

Animal-Assisted Therapy at an Outpatient Pain Management Clinic - Marcus et al. - Pain Medicine 13(1):45-57, Jan 2012

Study objective: ‘to evaluate the effects of brief therapy dog visits to an outpatient pain management facility - compared with time spent in a waiting room’.
Cover image for Vol. 13 Issue 1This study was conducted in a university tertiary care adult chronic pain outpatient clinic. The subjects of the study include outpatients, adults accompanying outpatients to their appointments, and clinic staff.

Participants were able to spend clinic waiting time with a certified Therapy Dog instead of waiting in the outpatient waiting area. When the Therapy Dog was not available individuals remained in the waiting area.

295 Therapy Dog visits (235 with patients, 34 family/friends, and 26 staff) and 96 waiting room surveys (83 from patients, 6 family/friends, and 7 staff) were completed over a 2-month study period.
  • A significant reduction in pain by 23% and emotional distress by 32% occurred in the chronic pain patients during the waiting room stay with a Therapy Dog; but only 4% in the waiting room control.
  • Significant improvements were likewise seen after therapy dog visits for family/friends and staff.
  • Therapy Dog visits in an outpatient setting can provide significant reduction in pain and emotional distress for chronic pain patients. 
  • Therapy Dog visits can also significantly improve emotional distress and feelings of well-being in family and friends accompanying patients to appointments and clinic staff.
  • Physically touching a dog decreases blood pressure, anxiety, stress and hopelessness. 
If a Therapy Dog assists in producing more positive feelings, than the entire visit becomes more positive and successful between ‘doctor and patient’. Future research plans to study the potential benefit of a fuzzy friendly dog on the actual interaction during the doctor's visit...

Reading to Dogs may have Benefits for Children

Researchers at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine (Tufts University) have provided preliminary evidence that: ‘reading aloud to man’s best friend can have positive effects on children’s desire and ability to read’.

“The benefit of the dog is they’re not judgmental, and they are great listeners,” said Professor Lisa Freeman, said the study was spurred by observations that having a canine audience seemed to increase children’s engagement with reading. “It really builds their confidence.”

For years, Freeman observed what appeared to be beneficial effects of a reading program that ‘paired children with canine listeners’. But there was no evidence to support the anecdotal observations. So Tufts researchers designed a simple study.

Over 5 weeks, summer 2010, 18 second graders at Grafton Public Library were randomly divided into 2 groups for 30 mins each week, half read aloud to a dog: half read to a person.

The children were allowed to choose whatever books they wanted, and read to the same dog each week, settling in on a large dog bed with their canine companion. Children seemed to prefer to read books about animals, seeming to want to choose stories the dogs could relate to:

“The kids seem to particularly like the dog-themed books; they seem to think the dogs really enjoy hearing about those,” 

Those who read aloud to a person were corrected or prompted if they made a mistake; while children reading to the dogs would be corrected through the dogs, i.e. the handler might say, “I don’t think she understood that last word.”

At the end of 5 weeks, children’s abilities were measured. Although a small sample, and not statistically significant, researchers recorded an increase in the words read per minute by the children in the dog group, and a decrease among children who spent the time reading to humans. Researchers hope to be able to expand study to a larger group, to see whether effects hold up.

“Dogs & children enjoy it - having everybody happy on both sides of the leash is going to be very important.” Freeman

Another surprising result was the high rate of attrition among students in the control group. Of the original cohort of nine, a third failed to complete the program. No students left the dog-reading group.

Qualitative Sociology Review, 3(1) 2007 Apr: 42-58

Abstract: To investigate the health benefits of companion animals in a way that goes beyond finding statistical patterns involves appreciating the philosophical debates about the nature of animal consciousness that engage an inter-disciplinary field of scholarship cutting across the Great Divide of the hard sciences and humanities.

It also requires developing a methodology to conduct empirical research which is often viewed as of secondary importance by researchers wishing to make a philosophical case about human beings and modernity.

This paper considers the achievements of qualitative sociologists, particularly in the field of post-Meadian symbolic interactionism who have addressed these issues, and discusses ways of extending and deepening this agenda through cross-fertilization with similar work in ethnomethodology, conversation analysis and post-humanist sociology in investigating the health benefits of dogs.

Mainstreaming Animal-Assisted Therapy - Palley, O’Rourke & NiemiILAR Journal, Vol 51, N0 3, 2010

AbstractTerm Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) commonly refers to the presentation of an animal to one or more persons for the purpose of providing a beneficial impact on human health or well-being.

AAT is an ideal example of “One Health” because of numerous studies and widespread testimonials indicating that many humans feel better in the presence of pets and conversely, that some of those creatures appear to respond positively to human company for their emotional and perhaps physical betterment.

Many AAT studies have claimed a wide range of human health benefits, but much of the research is characterized by small-scale interventions among disparate fields, resulting in criticisms about weak study design or inconsistent methodology. Such criticisms contrast with the strongly held belief among many that interaction with friendly animals has a strong and innate value for the persons involved.

Consequently the appeal of AAT in human medicine today may be generally characterized as a “push” by enthusiastic advocates rather than a “pull” by prescribing physicians.

To fully integrate AAT into conventional medical practice as an accepted therapeutic modality, more convincing intervention studies are necessary to confirm its clinical merits, along with an understanding of the underlying mechanism of the human response to the company of friendly animals.

Animal-Assisted Interventions in Internal & Rehab Medicine: a Review of the Recent Literature – Munoz et al. – Panminerva Medica 53(2):129-36 2011 June

While conventional wisdom has always affirmed the value of animals in promoting human well-being, only recently has their therapeutic role in medicine become the focus of dedicated research.

Therapeutic modalities that use animals as a tool for improving the physical, emotional, cognitive and/or social functioning of humans are called Animal-Assisted-Interventions (AAI), and are classified into: Animal-Assisted Activities (AAA); Animal-AssistedTherapy (AAT); and Service Animal Programs (SAP)

The aim of this review is to analyze the papers published from 2001-2010 in the most influential medical journals dealing with AAI, and discuss their findings in the light of what may be of interest for internal medicine and rehabilitation. A total of 35 articles met the strict inclusion criteria for this review: 18 papers dealing with AAA, 8 with AAT, and 9 with SAP.

The therapeutic outcomes associated with AAA are: enhancement of socialization; reduction of stress, anxiety and loneliness; improvement in mood and general well-being; and development of leisure/recreation skills.

Regarding AAT, horses are often used as a complementary strategy to facilitate the normalization of muscle tone and improve motor skills in children with cerebral palsy and persons with lower limb spasticity.

Finally, most SAP utilize dogs, that assist people with various disabilities in performing everyday activities, thus reducing their dependence on other persons.

Further studies are needed to better define the fields and programs for the therapeutic use of animals and to  increase their utilization in medicine, as a promising, complementary and  natural means to improve both functional autonomy and quality of life.

Effects of service Dogs on Social Acknowledgement of People in Wheelchairs - Hart et al. Journal of Psychology 122 (1): 39-45, 1998

The Journal of Psychology - Interdisciplinary and AppliedAble-bodied people often exhibit behaviours that show them to be socially uncomfortable upon encountering a physically disabled stranger. These behaviours include less eye contact, gaze avoidance, greater personal distance, and briefer social interactions. This study examined whether persons in wheelchairs with service dogs receive more frequent social acknowledgement from able-bodied strangers than people in wheelchairs without dogs receive.

Behaviours of passersby were recorded by an observer who followed a person in a wheelchair at a distance of 15 to 30 feet. Observations were made in public areas amid pedestrian traffic, areas such as shopping malls and a college campus. The behaviours of passersby to the person in a wheelchair, with or without a service dog, were recorded, including smiles, conversation, touch, gaze aversion, path avoidance, or no response.

Results indicated that both smiles and conversations from passersby increased significantly when the dogs were present. 
These findings suggest that the benefits of service dogs for their owners extend beyond working tasks to include enhanced opportunities for social exchange. 

Service dogs substantially reduced the tendency of able-bodied people to ignore or avoid the disabled person.

Parameters influencing service dogs' quality of response to commands: Retrospective study of 71 dogs  - Dalibard, H. -Journal of Veterinary Behaviour: Clinical Applications and Research, Vol 4, Iss 1, Jan 2009, PP 19-24

Cover imageAbstract: A retrospective study was carried out on 71 dogs to determine the parameters influencing the quality of service provided by service dogs and to modify the dog training and selection. The questionnaires were mailed 3 years after placing the dogs with disabled people. Two co-joined medical and veterinary studies were carried out. The questionnaires covered the quality of life and service evaluation of the dogs and owners.

The response rate was 76%. Two classes of dogs were set up according to the capacity of carrying out the commands and then crossed with dog and owner characteristics to determine any correlation.

No dog characteristics correlated with the quality of response to commands. The human population was very heterogeneous and the mobility of some owners was very restricted. 
However, the quality of service only correlated with the vocal capacity of the owners and did not correlate with the physical capacity of the owner.

The study emphasizes the importance of nonverbal communication & voice strength when communicating with dogs, and stresses the importance of the applicant selection process to ensure the success of the program.

Ethotest: A new model to identify (shelter) dogs’ skills as service animals or adoptable pets  - Lucidi et al. - Applied Animal Behaviour Science, Vol 95, Iss. 1–2, Nov 2005, PP 103-122

Cover imageAbstract: The paucity of dogs dedicated to Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) for disabled people creates long waiting lists worldwide and compromises the health of the few certified animals by demanding too much work from them at times, thus jeopardizing their future as Service Dogs.

In an attempt to obviate this situation, a mathematical model has been conceived to select animals endowed with a set of specific inborn skills from a population of Shelter Dogs.

The model is able to select dogs capable of creating a special bond with humans and able to work anywhere and with any human partner or team; it represents a rapid, inexpensive and coherent method and has been validated after 1 year of observation. The algorithm consists of three steps.

Step A is a test assessing the aggressiveness and temperament of animals and selection occurs based on a binary criterion (yes or no).

Step B is a test comprising three items & selects animals able to interact with humans; dogs have to fulfil two conditions to pass on to Step C.

Step C is a test evaluating the animal's ability to respond appropriately to easy commands (trainability) given by different partners; dogs have to fulfil two interrelated conditions judged more flexibly than in test B.

The aims of the Ethotest are to:

(a) Prevent aggressive animals from entering AAT and/or Therapy Programs.
(b) Select dogs with the right aptitude and especially to restrict selection to dogs that offer consistent responses.
(c) Include both male & female pure-breds or mixed breeds older than 1 year of age.
(d) Identify animals able to work with different partners. Moreover, the aim of this contribution is to share with the scientific community an easy method to select shelter dogs as safe companion animals.

Seizure-Alert Dogs: A Review and Preliminary Study - Dalziel, Uthman, McGorray, Reep - Seizure, Vol 12, Iss 2, Mar 2003, pp 5-120
Cover imagePurpose: Gather data on incidence of canine alerting/responding behavior with a defined patient population. Research development and use of purported alerting dogs.

Methods: Review of the literature was performed. A qualitative questionnaire was completed by epilepsy patients. Service dog trainers were identified.

Results: Of 63 patients, 29 owned pet dogs. Nine reported their dog responded to seizures, three also were reported to alert to seizure onset. There was no significant evidence of correlation between alerting/responding behaviour and the patients’ demographics, health, or attitude/ opinion of pets. 

Seizure-alerting/responding behaviour of the dog did not appear to depend on its age, gender or breed. A literature review revealed psychological and practical benefits of service dogs are well documented. Fifteen trainers of seizure-assist dogs were identified and interviewed.

Seizure sufferer Tara with response assistance dog Addy
Photo: David Caird - Herald Sun
Conclusions: Findings suggest some dogs have ‘innate ability’ to alert and/or respond to seizures. 

Suggests a trend in type of seizure/auras a dog may alert to. Success of these dogs depends largely on the handler’s awareness and response to the dog’s alerting behaviour. 

Warrants further research to aid in the selection of patients who may benefit from seizure-assist dogs, for identification and further training of these dogs and possibly the development of seizure-alerting devices.

Puppy Raising Programs

Without Words to Get in the Way: Symbolic Interaction in Prison-Based Animal Programs - Gennifer Furst – Qualitative Sociology Review, 3(1) 2007 Apr: 96-109

Through interviews with participants in prison-based animal programs (PAPs), this research explores whether inmates engaged in a process of assigning the animals (with which they work) a ‘human-like identity’ like pet owners do and how relationships that develop encourage a redefinition of an inmate’s self-identity and self-esteem. 

In prison, the programs do not have a clinical or psychological counselling component. Participants interact with animals, but usually with the goal of training them. While there are several program models, the most common ones are the:
  • Community Service Design - where participants train and care for animals, including dogs and wild horses, which are then ‘adopted out’ to the community.
  • Service animal socialization model where assistance/work puppies or dogs are raised and taught basic commands before the dogs go on to specialized training such as for explosives or drug-sniffing, or to work with people with physical disabilities. 
Today, empirical evidence from a variety of scientific fields supports the idea that animals are not simple autonomic creatures whose behaviour is determined by involuntary impulse or instinct.  

The non-verbal nature of the social interactions people have with animals is often used to dismiss this type of contact as less valuable and/or legitimate than interactions between people. However, there are a number of human sub-populations that have been previously ostracized or considered deviant by the dominant culture, including people with disabilities and those institutionalized in prisons and hospitals, whose members in particular may benefit from the unique, nonverbal type of interactions that take place with animals - without the language of rejection or judgment.

We have only just begun to examine the extent of the effects experienced by PAP participants, we know that not only do the humans benefit, but also the animals and those they go on to serve, as well. It’s difficult to identify other programs being administered in prisons today that can make a similar claim of creating a 'win-win-win' situation:

“These dogs are being trained for something fabulous – to save lives. This is my way of giving back.” Female prisoner


Symbolic interaction, Animals in prison, Human-animal interaction

The Value of Puppy Raisers' Assessments of Potential Guide Dogs' Behavioural Tendencies and Ability to Graduate - Batt, Batt, Baguley, McGreevy - Anthrozoos: A Multidisciplinary Journal of The Interactions of People & Animals, Vol 22, No 1, Spring 2009, pp. 71-76(6)

Anthrozoos: A Multidisciplinary Journal of The Interactions of People & Animals logoAbstract: Using logistic regression analysis, study examined the use of questionnaires to evaluate variables that predict successful completion of a guide dog training program. The model compared the questionnaire responses from individual Puppy Raisers (PRs) with their dog's success in the guide dog training program at Guide Dogs NSW/ACT.

Variables tested were the no and outcome of dogs previously raised, the household structure, duration of time spent alone, provisions made for the dog whilst alone, the no and type of other household pets, type and duration of training undertaken, behavioural responses to a number of stimuli as well as to other dogs and people, the frequency of exercise and socialization activities, the puppy raisers' plans to raise another pup, any medical problems, and their predictions about their dog's chances of success and the most likely causes for its failure.

Findings show that PRs' predictions of success and the no of dogs in the household were the most important predictors of success in the Guide Dogs NSW/ACT Training Program.

Describing Categories of Temperament in Potential Guide Dogs for the Blind - Julie Murphy - Applied Animal Behaviour Science, Vol 58, Issue 1, pp 163-178

Abstract: Trainers at the Guide Dogs Associations of Australia assess 12 month old guide dogs for 20 categories of temperament after walking and observing each dog over 5 days in increasingly complex environments.

This study investigated how trainers interpret these temperament categories from the canine behaviour observed. Dogs were videotaped by the author on their final assessment walk. Trainers who had no prior knowledge of the dogs on the videotapes observed the tapes and pointed out the segments which, in their opinion, showed dogs expressing particular categories of temperament.

One hundred and two segments of tape were isolated and examined in detail. The elements of behaviour observed in each segment were noted. Descriptions or `indicator sets' were determined for nine temperament categories. Each set lists the elements of behaviour shown by dogs in 60-69%, 70-79% and 80% of cases. Indicator sets were not determined.

Although each indicator set was unique, some elements of behaviour were common to more than one set. Therefore, it is best to interpret temperament categories from many elements of behaviour rather than just one or two. If adopted by other guide dog associations, the indicator sets derived from this study may be useful in standardising the identification & assessment of temperament categories of potential guide dogs by avoiding anthropomorphism or misinterpretation of dogs' behaviour.

Human-Animal Bond Journals

Top Journals Publishing Research on Dog Cognition

Animal Behaviour
Animal Behaviour is published for the Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour in collaboration with the Animal Behavior Society.

Animal BehaviourFirst published in 1953, Animal Behaviour is a leading international publication and has wide appeal, containing critical reviews, original papers, and research articles on all aspects of animal behaviour. Book Reviews and Books Received sections are also included.

Growing interest in behavioural biology and the international reputation of Animal Behaviour prompted an expansion to monthly publication in 1989. Animal Behaviour continues to be the journal of choice for biologists, ethologists, psychologists, physiologists, and veterinarians with an interest in the subject.

  • An interdisciplinary journal offering current research on animal cognition from many disciplines
  • Considers vital questions, including: How do animals categorize and recognize individuals patterns? How do animals form concepts? How do animals learn by observation, imitation and instruction?
  • Explores animal time perception and use; innate reaction patterns and innate bases of learning; numerical competence and more
Animal Cognition is an interdisciplinary journal offering current research from many disciplines (ethology, behavioral ecology, animal behavior and learning, cognitive sciences, comparative psychology and evolutionary psychology) on all aspects of animal (and human) cognition in an evolutionary framework.

Animal Cognition publishes original empirical and theoretical work, reviews, short communications and correspondence on the mechanisms and evolution of biologically rooted cognitive-intellectual structures.

The journal explores animal time perception and use; causality detection; innate reaction patterns and innate bases of learning; numerical competence and frequency expectancies; symbol use; communication; problem solving, animal thinking and use of tools, and the modularity of the mind.

The Journal of Comparative Psychology® publishes original empirical and theoretical research from a comparative perspective on the behavior, cognition, perception, and social relationships of diverse species. 

The submission of articles containing data on multiple species and multiple tasks is especially encouraged. Studies can be descriptive or experimental and can be conducted in the field or in captivity.

Anthrozoology Journals

A Multidisciplinary Journal of the Interactions of People and Animals. Anthrozoös is published on behalf of the International Society for Anthrozoology (ISAZ). 

anthro_logoA vital forum for academic dialogue on human-animal relations, Anthrozoös is a quarterly, peer-reviewed journal that has enjoyed a distinguished history as a pioneer in the field since its launch in 1987. 
The key premise of Anthrozoös is to address the characteristics and consequences of interactions and relationships between people and non-human animals across areas as varied as anthropology, ethology, medicine, psychology, veterinary medicine and zoology. 

Articles cover the full range of human-animal relations, from their treatment in the arts and humanities, through to behavioural, biological, social and health sciences.

Society & Animals - Journal of Human-Animal Studies

Society & Animals publishes studies that describe and analyze our experiences of non-human animals from the perspective of various disciplines within both the social sciences (e.g. psychology, sociology, anthropology, political science) & humanities (e.g. history, literary criticism).
Society & Animals specifically deals with subjects such as human-animal interactions in various settings (animal cruelty, the therapeutic uses of animals), the applied uses of animals (research, education, medicine and agriculture), the use of animals in popular culture (e.g. dog-fighting, circus, animal companion, animal research), attitudes toward animals as affected by different socializing agencies and strategies, representations of animals in literature, the history of the domestication of animals, the politics of animal welfare, and the constitution of the animal rights movement. 

The goal of Society & Animals is to stimulate and support the emerging multi-disciplinary field of animal studies, which consists, broadly, of investigations of the ways in which non-human animals figure in our lives. 


ISAZ Waltham Collaborative Research Award

ISAZ and Waltham have partnered to create a collaborative grant program, with the goal of stimulating new research in the area of human-animal interactions, with particular interest in the role of pets in the lives of elders, pets enhancing healthy longevity, and the role of pets in the community.

Next application deadline is 15 Jan 2012. 

NB: The applicant must be an individual or student member of ISAZ (or must apply for ISAZ membership prior to application). An ISAZ membership application is available at

The CAIRC Scholarship Program 

Fostering Research into the Study of Human-Companion Animal Relationships through Assistance for Young Researchers

The Companion Animal Information and Research Centre is working to further the study of human-companion animal relationships and to deepen understanding of companion animals. 

As part of that effort, CAIRC instituted a scholarship in 1998 to encourage research into the relationships between humans and companion animals.

It was in the 1970s that research into the relationships between humans and companion animals became a recognized field of study. The field has been dominated by research in the zoological and veterinary sciences. But in recent years, it has expanded to involve researchers in a wide range of diverse fields. 

Recipients of the CAIRC scholarship have included researchers in fields as wide-ranging as sociology, psychology, anthropology and genetics. It is clear that this involvement of researchers in fields so diverse is helping the study of human-companion animal research into a more methodical and rigorous science. CAIRC looks forward to the participation of researchers in an ever-expanding range of scientific pursuits.

Animal Behaviour Society Grants and Awards

The Animal Behaviour Society manages several different types of grants & awards including:
  1. Meeting related awards (i.e. Allee, Founders, and Genesis)
  2. Student related (i.e. the Student 1st time research awards, the George W. Barlow award the E. O. Wilson Conservation award, the Amy R. Samuels Cetacean Behaviour award)
  3. Developing Nations award
  4. Travel related grants and awards
  5. Career awards (Distinguished Animal Behaviorist, Exempler award, Quest award, Exceptional Service award and Young Investigator Award)
All application deadlines are announced via website.


Human-Animal Interaction (HAI) is commonplace during childhood and other stages of human development, and a number of studies have suggested HAI may play a role in improving human health, preventing emotional distress, reducing stress, increasing academic achievement, and increasing well-being across the life-span. 

Much of this research has been descriptive and little work has looked at the underlying neurobiological mechanisms associated with HAI. There is a need for research on the underlying neural, genetic, and basic affiliation and motivation processes contributing to HAI. Because this is an emerging area of public health inquiry, researchers with expertise in studying neurobiological mechanisms supporting human behaviours have rarely been involved in HAI and are not familiar with the intriguing public health results and questions early HAI research has generated. 

Likewise, most researchers who have been involved in current HAI studies are not familiar with neurobiological approaches or the types of collaborations they could establish to investigate basic mechanisms associated with HAI.

This conference brings together experts in social, emotional and cognitive neuroscience with researchers investigating human-animal interactions. This conference will focus on:
  • Current methods and findings in developmental neuroscience, specifically in the areas of social and emotional development, cognition, motivation and social affiliation
  • Relevant questions regarding basic mechanisms of HAI of mutual interest to the participants 
  • Methods and measures appropriate for investigating those questions

Social Neuroscience of Human-Animal Interactions 2011 Conference was sponsored by The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and The WALTHAM® Centre for Pet Nutrition, a Division of Mars, Inc

NICHD and Mars’ Waltham Centre Partnership
NICHD and Mars’ Waltham Centre have entered into a formal Public-Private Partnership to encourage research on HAI, especially as it relates to child development, health and the therapeutic use of animals with children and adolescents. NICHD & Mars' Waltham Centre sponsored two workshops:

Every 3 years, IAHAIO arranges an international conference on the topic of human-animal interaction, allowing hundreds of world-leading scientists to present their most recent work.

Given the scientific and medical evidence proving the beneficial effects to human health and well-being arising from interactions with companion animals, given the biological and psychological evidence for the innate affinity of humans to nature, including other living beings and natural settings, members of IAHAI unanimously approved the following resolution and guidelines for action at the IAHAIO General Assembly held on 5 Oct 2007 in Tokyo.

It's a universal, natural and basic human right to benefit from the presence of animals.

Acknowledgement of this right has consequences requiring action in various spheres of legislation and regulation. IAHAIO urges all international bodies and national and local governments to:
  1. Enact housing regulations which allow the keeping of companion animals if they can be housed properly and cared for adequately, while respecting the interests of people not desiring direct contact with such animals.
  2. Promote access of specially selected and trained, healthy, and clean animals to medical care facilities to participate in animal-assisted therapy and/or animal-assisted activities;
  3. Recognize persons and animals adequately trained in and prepared for, animal-assisted therapy, animal-assisted activity and animal-assisted education.
  4. Allow the presence of companion animals in care/residential centres for people of any age, who would benefit from that presence.
  5. Promote the inclusion of companion animals in the school curricula according the “IAHAIO Rio Declaration on Pets in Schools“.

'Arts & Sciences of Human-Animal Interactions' July 11-13, 2012, Cambridge, UK

Topics will include:
  • Animals and human–animal interaction in film, television, literature, music and art
  • Attitudes to animals and animal issues (contemporary and historical)
  • The impact of human–animal interactions on the health and well-being of people and animals
  • Cultural studies of human–animal interaction
  • Animal welfare and ethical issues

Minding Animals International 2012

Minding Animals International 2012 will be held at the Ethics Institute of Utrecht University (Ethiek instituut, Universiteit Utrecht, Netherlands)

AVMA -IAHAIO Partnership!

A new partnership between the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Assoc) and the International Association of Human-Animal Interaction Organizations (IAHAIO) will emphasise the Human-Animal Bond, strengthen educational opportunities and attract new attendees during 2013 AVMA Conference.
IAHAIO hosts an international symposium every 3 years will hold the IAHAIO meeting as part of the AVMA convention's ‘human-animal bond’ track.

"The human-animal bond was first coined in veterinary medicine, and much of what we do is to do with human-animal interaction," said Dr Johnson, President of IAHAIO and Director of University of Missouri-Columbia College of Veterinary Medicine Research Centre for Human-Animal Interaction.

IAHAIO's triennial conference draws 1,000 attendees. Investigators present research on all facets of human-animal bond interactions. Programs typically feature the latest, best practices on human-animal interaction from IAHAIO members who implement their own programs and report back their findings (e.g. Delta Society, which runs its own animal-assisted activities).

IAHAIO will help draft the human-animal bond–track sessions at the 2013 AVMA Convention July 20-23, in Chicago. The usual 8 hours of human-animal bond CE will be expanded to 16 hours. The goal of the collaboration is to improve opportunities for networking, exposure, and education for all attendees, be they veterinarians or allied health providers.

"I think it's a nice blending and will be mutually beneficial for both organizations," Dr. Johnson said. "It's a great opportunity for people who wouldn't ordinarily talk together to do that."

Australian Directory of Human-Animal Interaction Programs

1. Research on Human-Animal Bond 

Human Animal InteractionResearch confirms what most of us instinctively know to be true: the presence of animals in people's lives has a significant positive influence on the social, emotional and physical well-being off people.  

Our companion animals can ease loneliness and calm the emotions; they can make us laugh and make us feel needed; and they can soothe us in times of illness or hardship. 

Many of our companion animals have been trained to provide mobility and independence for those in need. There is a very strong bond between humans and animals. This relationship between humans and animals is referred to as Human-Animal Interaction (HAI).

2. Anthrozoology is the Study of  Relationships between Humans & Animals

Anthrozoology is unique in that it studies the role of animals in the lives of humans, and vice versa. It has been called many other things, including "human animal interaction", and the "human animal bond"

Anthrozoology comes from the Greek anthropos meaning human and zoon meaning animal.
Research has applications in a growing number of areas including:
  • Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) or Pets as Therapy (PAT)
  • Animal Assisted Education (AAE)
  • Humane Education (HE)
  • The Biophilia Hypothesis - which suggests that there is an instinctive bond between human beings and other living systems
  • Understanding the universal human practice of pet keeping
"No-one who looks at the evidence can doubt that animals in hand improve the quality of modern human life..." The Biophilia Hypothesis, S.R.Kellert & E.O.Wilson

The Anthrozoology Research Group (ARG) is affiliated with the Animal Welfare Science Centre and the Department of Psychology at Monash University. 

ARC focus particularly on companion animals. Australia has one of the highest rates of companion animal ownership in the world. 2/3 of the population live with one or more animals. For many of us our relationships with animals are extremely important. 

When interspecies relationships work well, they provide terrific health and well-being benefits for both humans and animals. When they fail, however, animals can suffer terribly and so can humans. 

ARC uses a multidisciplinary approach to try to understand what makes our relationships with companion animals succeed or fail. Why do this?
  • ARC is committed to improving human health. People who have good relationships with animals are healthier and happier and animals can also be used to improve the lives of disadvantaged people. 
  • ARC is committed to improving animal welfare. Companion animals who have good relationships with their caregivers generally have much better welfare than those who don't. 
  • Arc is concerned about the health of our planet. They believe that by promoting good relationships between people and the natural world, represented in this case by companion animals, ARC can foster a stronger sense of respect and responsibility for the wider environment.

4. Research Centres & Professional Associations


Monash University, 
Psychology Department
Anthrozoology Research Group

University of Western Australia,
School of Social and Cultural Studies
Anthropology and Sociology
Animals & Society Study Group

University of Queensland, Australia 

University of Queensland, Australia

University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand (Aotearoa)
Human-Animal Studies in the College of Arts


University of Minnesota, 

Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine Cornell Companions

Tufts University, 
School of Veterinary Medicine 

University of Davis, 
School of Veterinary Medicine 

Purdue University 
School of Veterinary Medicine 

University of Pennsylvania 
School of Veterinary Medicine 

Tuskuegee University 
School of Veterinary Medicine 

Virginia Commonwealth University 
School of Medicine 

Colorado State University 

Washington State University 
College of Veterinary Medicine 

Washington State University 

Washington State University
College of Veterinary Medicine On-Line Eductation

University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, 
Department of Comparative Medicine 

Michigan State University 
College of Nursing 

University of Missouri
College of Veterinary Medicine

United Kingdom

University of Cambridge Animal Welfare and Anthrozoology Group

Queen's University Belfast School of Psychology


International Organisations



Western Illinois University
Sociology and Anthropology Faculty

University of Southampton
School of Psychology
Anthrozoology Course
University of Denver
Graduate School of Social Work

Arizona State University
School of Social Work
Animal-Human Connections course

Harcum College, Bryn Mawr, PA

Camden County College, Blackwood, NJ
Certificate Program
Masters Program
International Program

United Kingdom

Liverpool Hope University College
Psychology at Hope

University of Wales Lampeter - MA in Anthrozoology



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