Texas Tech University

Human-Animal Interaction Lab

The Human-Animal Interaction Lab, directed by Dr. Protopopova, systematically explores questions of companion animal well-being, behavior, and human-animal interactions. Our research aims are 1) to improve the well-being of pet dogs and dogs housed in animal shelters through the development of behavioral interventions, 2) assess and develop therapy dog programs to benefit human health and educational outcomes, and 3) improve our general understanding of animal abnormal behavior.

Check out a newspaper article about our research on increasing adoptions in animal shelters!

Because our mission is to improve the lives of companion animals and their humans in the community, we are always in need for our favorite research subjects - your pet dog! Watch out for announcements advertising new research projects in which you and/or your pet can participate below.

Currently Recruiting Participants for Therapy Dog Research!

Texas Tech University is recruiting children ages 2-11 years with Autism Spectrum Disorder and/or Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities to participate in a program that assesses the helpfulness of Therapy Dogs in educational settings.

Details: Your child will be asked to come to research sessions, averaging 30 min in length, several times per week (1-3) across several months (2-12), depending on your availability and your child's progress. In these sessions, the child may pet a dog while the experimenter guides the interaction, and choose to play with toys and/or pet a therapy dog. This will tells us which toys your child likes the most and if your child enjoys dogs. Your child will then be asked to do educational tasks that they may not know how to do (the task will be determined by your child's current needs). Tasks may be reading from a book, finding letters, or playing with toys. Your child may also be asked to hold a clean straw in their mouth to collect some saliva in order for us to measure a hormone, called cortisol, which helps us understand your child's comfort level. Sessions may be videotaped for data collection purposes.

Location: The Burkhart Center for Autism Education and Research, TTU, Lubbock, Texas.

Eligibility: Everyone is welcome to participate, with the exclusion of children who have allergies and/or are very scared of dogs.

You and your child may benefit from this study because your child may learn some new academic skills as well as receive potential emotional benefits by interacting with a therapy dog.

Please contact Ashley Matter at ashley.matter@ttu.edu if you are interested in participating in this study.

 Check out a newspaper article about this study!

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Top image courtesy of Beth Zavoyski.

Human-Animal Interaction Lab