Human-Animal Interaction Lab

With your help, we aim to discover more about our beloved companions and help dog professionals learn how to help dogs better!

There is no other animal that shares a closer connection to people around the world than the domesticated dog. Not only are dogs incredible companions and particularly lovable, but did you know that they are found everywhere where people are found? But even if dogs are ubiquitous, surprisingly, we don’t actually know much about the inner lives of dogs – but we want your help to find out!

While Dr. Protopopova and her students may have different studies going in the future, we are currently studying individual variation in domestic dogs, which includes studying emotion and mood, and exploring behaviour and learning processes to see whether these processes contribute to dog personality and individual differences between dogs. There is a long history of artificial selection in domestic dogs to accentuate desirable traits according to their utility to humans. However, domestic dogs’ interaction with their living environment and experience through life can also shape personality and lead to variation in behaviour even between individuals within a certain breed. In fact, dogs from the same litter can be completely different in terms of personality, emotional responses, or learning abilities.

How to Volunteer Your Dog

We want to know how YOUR dog sees the world! As a participant in our studies, you will first be asked to fill out a questionnaire, which will tell us more about your dog. We will then schedule a meeting with you and your dog. Depending on the study, the meeting may either be in-person (at the brand new Human-Animal Interaction Lab located at Room 194, MacMillan Building, Faculty of Land and Food Systems, University of British Columbia, Vancouver campus) or online through a ZOOM meeting in your home, while we virtually guide you through cognitive tasks. When we meet, we will also “ask” your dog whether they want to participate by looking at whether they feel comfortable with us and want to engage in our cognitive tasks. If not, we may ask you to switch to either a different study that may suit your dog better, or reconsider all together. After all, we want the sessions to be fun and engaging for you and your dog! 

If you are interested in participating, please click on the link below to read more about our current on-going study to determine whether you would like your dog to participate.