Positive Caretaker Interactions
Dogs need time with their human caretakers that includes touch and play. Positive care routines will support good dog welfare.
Petting and play have beneficial effects including:
- lowering cortisol (a stress hormone)
- reducing indicators of stress and fear like increased vocalizations and panting
- decreasing frustration
- reducing fear-related behaviors
- strengthening the dog-human relationship
Even adult dogs can quickly form attachments to their human caretakers. Caretakers can provide a “safe base” for dogs, helping dogs feel safe with other people. Secure relationships build confidence and reduce stress when dogs encounter something new.
Social interactions with both dogs and people are important to dog wellbeing. Negative or limited/no interactions will have a negative effect on dogs. Dogs often show distress when isolated. Play with other dogs does not replace the need for quality time spent with caretakers. To support canine welfare all social interactions should be fun for the dog.
In one study, female beagles were more interactive with humans. Dogs were more likely to seek eye contact as they aged and had more experience with people. Genetics may also contribute to the differences found in human-directed behavior. Social skills in dogs may have a genetic basis which can be changed by experience.
Persson, M.E., Roth, L.S.V., Johnsson, M., Wright, D., and Jensen, P. (2015). Human-directed social behaviour in dogs shows significant heritability. Genes, Brain, and Behavior, 14, 337-344. doi: 10.1111/gbb.12194
Positive Caretaker Interactions Library
Bare Bones – If you only have a few minutes for the basics
Snacks – If you want to learn more
Kibble – If you want tot ake a deep dive into the science
Meeting the Behavioral Needs of Kenneled Dogs - CRONEY RESEARCH GROUP
Human Interaction and Cortisol: Can Human Contact Reduce Stress for Shelter Dogs?
Heart Rate Variability and Saliva Cortisol Assessment in Shelter Dog: Human-Animal Interaction Effects
The 2020 Five Domains Model: Including Human-Animal Interactions in Assessments of Animal Welfare
Effects of Human–Dog Familiarity on Dogs’ Behavioural Responses to Petting
Shut Up and Pet Me! Domestic Dogs (Canis Lupus familiaris) Prefer Petting to Vocal Praise in Concurrent and Single-Alternative Choice Procedures
Additional Resources to Support Dogs in Other Environments
SHELTER & RESCUE
Dogs living in shelter or rescue kennels face challenges specific to their living environments. Practical applications for their management and care may also differ. Additional resources for their caretakers, including those caring for dogs in home-based foster systems or rescue networks, are provided to support efforts to improve, maintain, and protect their welfare.
Dogs living in homes as family pets face challenges specific to their living environments. Practical applications for their management and care may also differ. Additional resources for their caretakers, support the human-animal bond, keep pets in their homes, and improve, maintain, and protect their welfare.
Research & Teaching
Dogs living in research or teaching kennels face challenges specific to their living environments. Practical applications for their management and care may also differ. Additional resources for their caretakers are provided to support efforts to improve, maintain, and protect their welfare.
Applications for Research & Teaching
Applications for Pet Families
Prepping Your Pet for Your New Baby
Fields, L. (n.d.). Pets and the new baby: What's safe, how to prepare. WebMD. Retrieved April 18, 2022, from https://pets.webmd.com/features/pets-and-new-baby
Dogs and Babies
Dogs and babies. ASPCA. (n.d.). Retrieved April 18, 2022, from https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/dog-care/dogs-and-babies Preparing your dog for a new baby
How Not to Greet a Dog
Chin, L. (n.d.) How Not to Greet a Dog. Retrieved June 21, 2023, from https://www.dropbox.com/s/e3szkccvqokow4v/HowNotToGreetADog%2024x36.png?dl=0.
The New New on Greeting a Dog, Whether You’re 5 or 55
Reeder, J. (2023). The New New on Greeting a Dog, Whether You’re 5 or 55. Fear Free Happy Homes. Retrieved June 21, 2023, from https://www.fearfreehappyhomes.com/the-new-new-on-greeting-a-dog-whether-youre-5-or-55/.
Be Dog Smart: Signs Your Child is Ready for a Dog
Pet Leadership Council. (2019) Signs your child is ready for a dog. American Pet Products Association. https://bedogsmart.org. Used with permission.
Puppy or Not
Puppy or Not Trailblazing Tails. problem behavior recognition
7 Prevention Tips for Parents
Trailblazing Tails. 7 Prevention Tips for Parents. problem behavior recognition
15 More Things I Teach My Kids to Do Around Dogs
Trailblazing Tails. (n.d.). 15 More Things I Teach My Kids to Do Around Dogs. Problem Behavior Recognition
Human Analogue Safe Haven Effect Of The Owner: Behavioural And Heart Rate Response To Stressful Social Stimuli In Dogs
Gacsi, M., Maros, K., Sernkvist, S., Farago, T., and Miklósi, A. (2013). Human Analogue Safe Haven Effect of the Owner: Behavioural and Heart Rate Response to Stressful Social Stimuli in Dogs. PLoS ONE 8(3), e58475. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0058475
Top 15 Things I Teach My Kids to Do Around Dogs
Trailblazing Tails. Top 15 Things I Teach My Kids to Do Around Dogs. problem behavior recognition
Milestones. familypaws.com. problem behavior recognition
Grumble and Growl Zones
Grumble and Growl Zones. FamilyPaws.com problem behavior recognition
Familypaws.com. (n.d.). Retrieved February 21, 2022, from https://www.familypaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/FPPE_SuccessStation_Handout_FINAL_H-1.pdf
Be Dog Smart: Introducing Your Child and Dog
Pet Leadership Council. (2019) Introducing your child and dog. American Pet Products Association. https://bedogsmart.org. Used with permission.
The 5 Types of Supervision
Five types of supervision. familypaws.com. Problem Behavior Recognition
Dog and Toddler Safety
Dog and toddler safety. FamilyPaws.com. Problem Behavior Recognition
Dog and Baby Safety
Dog and baby safety . Family Paws.com. problem behavior
Applications for Shelter & Rescue
Effects of Exercise and Human Contact on Animal Welfare in a Dog Shelter
Menor-Campos, D.J., Molleda-Carbonell, J.M., and López-Rodriguez, R. (2011). Effects of exercise and human contact on animal welfare in a dog shelter.
The Influence of Environmental Change On The Behaviour of Sheltered Dogs
One hundred and twenty dogs sheltered by the Ulster Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals were studied over a 4-h period. The dogs' position in the cage, vocalisation, and activity were investigated in response to increased human social stimulation, moving the dog's bed to the front of the cage, or suspending a toy from the front of the dog's cage.
The Effect Of Familiarity On Behavior Of Kennel Housed Dogs During Interactions With Humans
Pullen, A.J., Merrill, R.J.N., and Bradshaw, J.W.S. (2012). The effect of familiarity on behavior of kennel housed dogs during interactions with humans. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 137, 66-73.
Evaluating Cognitive And Behavioral Outcomes In Conjunction With Secure Base Effect For Dogs In Shelter And Foster Environments
Thielke, L.E. and Udell, M.A.R. (2019). Evaluating cognitive and behavioral outcomes in conjunction with secure base effect for dogs in shelter and foster environments. Animals, 9, 932. doi: 10.3390/ani9110932.
Effects Of Human Presence And Voice On The Behaviour Of Shelter Dogs And Cats: A Preliminary Study
Tuozzi, A., Arhant, C., Anderle, K., Backes, J., Cords, C., Magierski, V., . . . Windschnurer, I. (2021). Effects of human presence and voice on the behaviour of shelter dogs and cats: A preliminary study. Animals : An Open Access Journal from MDPI, 11(2), 10.3390/ani11020406. doi:406 [pii]
Characterizing Human-Dog Attachment Relationships In Foster And Shelter Environments As A Potential Mechanism For Achieving Mutual Wellbeing And Success
Thielke, L.E. and Udell, M.A.R. (2020). Characterizing human-dog attachment relationships in foster and shelter environments as a potential mechanism for achieving mutual wellbeing and success. Animals, 10, 67. doi: 10.3390/ani10010067.
The Effects Of Training And Environmental Alterations On Adoption Success Of Shelter Dogs
Luescher, A.U. and Medlock, R.T. (2009). The effects of training and environmental alterations on adoption success of shelter dogs. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 117, 63-68.
Evaluation Of The Effects Of A Socialization Program In A Prison On Behavior And Pituitary-Adrenal Hormone Levels Of Shelter Dogs
Hennessy, M., Morris, A., and Linden, F. (2006). Evaluation of the effects of a socialization program in a prison on behavior and pituitary-adrenal hormone levels of shelter dogs. Applied Animal Behavior Science, 99, 157-171. doi: 10.1016/j.applanim.2005.09.011
Attachment Behavior Of Adult Dogs (Canis Familiaris) Living At Rescue Centers: Forming New Bonds
Gácsi, M., Topál, J., Miklósi, Á., Dóka, A., and Csányi, V. (2001). Attachment Behavior of Adult Dogs (Canis familiaris) Living at Rescue Centers: Forming New Bonds. Journal of Comparative Psychology, 115(4), 423-431. DOI: 10.1037/0735-7036.115.4.423
Enrichment Centered On Human Interaction Moderates Fear-induced Aggression And Increases Positive Expectancy In Fearful Shelter Dogs
Willen, R. M., Schiml, P. A., & Hennessy, M. B. Enrichment centered on human interaction moderates fear-induced aggression and increases positive expectancy in fearful shelter dogs
Human Interaction Moderates Plasma Cortisol and Behavioral Responses of Dogs to Shelter Housing
Shiverdecker, M. D., Schiml, P. A., & Hennessy, M. B. Human interaction moderates plasma cortisol and behavioral responses of dogs to shelter housing enrichment