The scientists calculated the percentage of cortisol in the dog’s saliva. Cortisol is a hormone that is released when the canine is under duress. The lab swabs were collected both at home environment and at the hospital during therapy.
According to the research team’s findings, levels of cortisol in the blood are elevated both during bad and good stress situations. For instance, if the dog loves playing ball and it’s thrown away for it to chase, then cortisol will increase in the canine’s bloodstream.
Further, the researchers analyzed and video-recorded 26 dog behaviors divided into 3 categories: friendly encounter e.g. when approaching their owners and/or play-bowing; mild stress behavior e.g. when shaking or lip-licking; and finally high-stress indicators such as whimpering.
Canine facial expressions can tell a lot about how their behavior has evolved since their domestication many millenniums ago. If you give your dog attention, its face will produce a huge number of expressions. Researchers compared canine reactions when a person is watching them versus when he/she has their back against the dog’s face. When being watched, a dog will create a wider range of facial expressions and movements. Having lived with us for around 30,000 years, canines may have evolved to better converse with us.
The researchers didn’t find any much variation between canine cortisol levels in a home environment and hospital settings. That shows that the dogs under therapy may not have been particularly under any stress.
Making Work More Fun
According to the author of a 2017 literature review on therapy canine welfare, Lisa Maria Glenk, the findings in this study confirm what past surveys has postulated.
Besides, this later study is particularly well-designed and gives more credence to its findings due to its detail level, according to Glenk, a research fellow at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna, Austria.
The next research question should be whether therapy canines really do enjoy working. Glenk says that the latest pediatric cancer research gives a number of hints. For instance, dogs appeared to enjoy doing some activities than they did with others. That’s good information to enable canine handlers lean toward those activities that their dogs seem to enjoy more.
Finding the Right Natural Fit
This necessitates observing canines under therapy more closely, even though they may appear inconsistent sometimes. For example, the survey revealed that dogs that exhibited the most signs of stress also displayed the most signs of friendly behavior, suggesting that some dogs could just be much more obvious regarding their feelings.
Just like in any jobs, it’s critical to pick the most appropriate candidates. Most pet owners would feel like sharing their pets’ affection with others in their local communities. However, that isn’t to mean that the canine will enjoy this.
Thus, therapy canine trainers/certifiers and owners should look for that enthusiasm before committing the dogs to such activity. They shouldn’t just rely on mere tolerance.
The activity needs to be mutually advantageous to the interacting parties. It’s very critical that the dog itself loves the job it’s doing.