Hur påverkas utbildade vårdhundar (Canis lupus familiaris) av sitt arbete inom humanvården?

Today therapy dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) service people more than ever and different categories of work places use therapy dogs to help their caretakers. Many studies have been made on the positive effects in patients when they are given contact with a dog, but very little have been done on how the dog experience its situation and what kind of behaviour a therapy dog shows during its working days. This work was made to investigate the behaviours that educated therapy dogs in Sweden showed when they were in contact with a caretaker and to find out if the dogs showed any signs of stress or some other kind of discomfort. To do this a survey was sent out to 17 educated therapy dog handlers in Sweden that together had 18 educated therapy dogs. The survey contained 39 questions about the daily work of the therapy dogs when they were together with caretakers and some questions about the therapy dogs spare time. A question about what kind of dog breed the therapy dog handlers had were also in the survey to investigate if some breeds were more usual as therapy dogs. All of the handlers answered the survey and the results could then be compiled. The results showed that 50 % of the dogs were either pure bred retrievers or mixed breeds with retriever involved. Most of the therapy dog handlers worked with their dogs in the eldery care and most of the therapy dog teams worked two days a week. Four of the therapy dogs had tried to get away from a caretaker and eight of the dogs had been mistreated by a caretaker. Some of the dogs had shown behaviours that could be signs of stress or discomfort. Most of the therapy dogs got a time-out during their work once an hour and most of them also got a time-out between two sessions with caretakers. In the time-outs the therapy dogs were often relaxed and asleep. These results leads to the conclusions that the most common breeds (in this survey) were retrievers, some of the therapy dogs had been through unpleasant experiences and some of the therapy dogs had shown signs of stress and discomfort. Most of the dogs got time-outs quite often during their work. To get a better overview of the behaviours that therapy dogs show when they are given contact with a caretaker more studies, with a bigger number of dogs have to be made.


Elin Ehrén

Lärosäte och institution

SLU/Dept. of Animal Environment and Health


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