How does animal assisted activities affect working dogs and what is the owner's perception of the dog´s emotions?
AbstractToday's research on animal assisted interventions (AAI) has focused on the positive effects on humans. Dogs used for AAI are an expanding market, but the research on this area hasn't followed the increasing use. The few studies on dogs in this field mostly observed their cortisol-levels and are very ambiguous. I have observed the behaviour of dogs working with AAI compared to when they are off-duty to see how they are affected by their work. Their handlers where also told to make an assessment of the dog's emotions during the session.
All of the dogs showed the same number or more behaviours during working session than not working. The behaviour showed most by the dogs during the study was lip licking. Lip licking was correlated or had a tendency to correlation with yawning, panting and getting a treat. The handler's assessment of the dog's emotions was mostly positive. The negative assessed emotions was positively correlated with one stress-related behaviour and negatively correlated with several stress-related behaviours which I observed. The results indicate that stress-related behaviours occur but due to the small number of dogs I can't apply it to the population and I can't say if the stress is negative or not