If you’ve ever been to a shelter to adopt a dog, you know that when you walk into the holding area, the dogs can get very noisy. At the introduction of a stranger to the room their kennels are in, the dogs will start barking, which encourages the other dogs around them to bark as well. Barking has been documented as a stressor for dog, as have repetitive behavior and lots of movement. All of these behaviors seem to increase by the access of visitors to the kennel area. Lynn Hewison and colleagues decided to investigate if preventing visitor access to the dogs could lower stress levels and therefore increase general welfare of the animals.
As anyone who owns a pet could probably tell you, animals are great comforts to their human partners. The relationship between animal and human can go beyond just pet and owner, however, and become a therapeutic relationship. For example, dogs have been used with adult substance abuse patients in animal-assisted interventions (AAIs) and animal-assisted therapy (AAT). Why use dogs in therapy? They can be a good motivator for participation in an intervention and become a source of trust and comfort to the patient, thus improving the chance of therapy success. There has been a lot of research done on the impact that using dogs in therapy can have on humans. But what about the effect it has on the welfare of the dogs?
When finding the right dog for yourself, you probably won’t choose an aggressive one, will you? You don’t want it to attack your friends, kids, or other dogs. You could try using a temperament test to predict behavior in dogs, but how reliable are they?
Patterns in behavior are everywhere around us. Think about the sequence of behavior when you do the laundry, get ready in the morning, play a game of soccer, or drive your car to work. Many behavioral scientists focus on these highly structured phenomena. For instance, researchers now closely examine social interactions or the execution of tasks. Many patterns are missed when observed with the naked eye. Fortunately, cameras and specialized software can be used to aid in the detection of interesting behavior patterns.
Not long ago, we wrote a blog post on human-cat interaction. Besides the study of the relation between humans and popular pets such as cats and dogs, human-horse interaction is an increasingly popular subject of science.
The practice of animal husbandry is facing major issues. The up scaling of farms raises questions regarding health and wellbeing, danger of outbreaks, and environmental pollution. Innovative solutions are needed. The increasing pressure from legislation and society has created the need for a long term solution.
Crossing the bridge between human and animal behavior research
Noldus provides many solutions for research on the behavior of both animals and humans. And on occasion, a Noldus solution is used for both animal and human research at the same time. Manuela Wedl and her colleagues are a prime example with their study on human-animal interaction.