IAHAIO 2021 Conference

  • Day one: Saturday 25 September

Symposium: Choice and control in animal welfare in AAI, Sara Karlberg and Tess Erngren

Can we give social working dogs a feeling of autonomy? Would this result in a more effective intervention? Do all dogs experience an innate motivation for social work? How far is it ethically acceptable to use dogs for the purpose of helping humans?

Science shows that giving an individual choice and control in life reduces stress and heightens welfare. Therefore we argue that teaching social working dogs they have a choice when, and how, to interact with clients, and also how to communicate start- and stop button behaviours will secure better welfare for these dogs.

Sara Karlberg and Tess Erngren will, in this talk, use existing science and practical examples to explore the possibilities of how to apply choice and control in AII. They will also look into what genetic predisposition is necessary for dogs to truly enjoy human social interactions. This ultimately leads to the question – is it ethically right to use dogs in social work who don’t have these traits? By the end of the talk, the speakers will invite the participants for further discussion on this important topic.

Sara Karlberg

Sara Karlberg has a bachelor degree in media and communications from Södertörns University in Stockholm. Quite soon after taking her degree and working as a tv-photographer she changed course and has studied public science, rehabilitation science, ethology, and psychology at different universities. She is also educated as a dog instructor. In 2008 she trained her first therapy dog and as a dog instructor with a therapy dog she started up the Swedish school for therapy dogs. Her organization has expanded to the Nordic schools for therapy dogs and has courses in Sweden, Finland and Norway. In 2008 she was one of the founders of the Scandinavian therapy dog association, a non-profit organization for the dog teams. 2011-2013 Sara was a member of the committee that developed the Swedish standard for training and educating dog teams in healthcare.
Sara has also been a board member of the Swedish HAI organization Manimalis who unfortunately is no longer active. She is also a frequent lecturer at the Swedish university of agriculture. 2018 Sara and her colleague Helena Eriksson published a book about animal assisted interventions who now have been translated in English (Animal assisted interventions, Professionals Embrace the Power of the Dog, 2020).

Tess Erngren

Tess Erngren is a certified dog instructor, dog psychologist, dog philosopher and TAGteacher. She holds a bachelor’s degree in applied psychology and is owner and founder of GoodDog, Norway.