Human-animal interactions may result in profound behavioural and physiological changes in the animal. Experiments demonstrate that handling of a negative nature can impair animal welfare, health and performance, primarily through animal fear and stress.
Furthermore, field observations on stockperson-animal interactions and intervention studies in the livestock industries demonstrate sequential relationships between human attitudes, human behaviour, animal behaviour, animal stress and animal productivity and provide evidence of causal relationships between these human and animal variables.
This research in the livestock industries provides a strong case for introducing stockperson training courses in the livestock industries that target stockperson attitudes and behaviour.
There is however the need for more research on the influence of animal carers in other settings, such as in domestic and zoo settings, to better understand the importance of the human–animal relationship. Furthermore, while the effects of human interactions of a negative nature on the animal are well understood and recognised, the benefits of a positive human-animal relationship on the animal are poorly understood.
In this Dean’s Research Seminar, Professor Paul Hemsworth will review this research and the need to understand these relationships in all animal use settings as well as the opportunities to not only safeguard animal welfare, but develop positive human–animal relationships to achieve positive animal welfare outcomes.