Human animal interactions header

Society’s interest in the bond between humans and animals has grown considerably since the end of the last century. This is, partly due to news items in popular media on the positive impact that animals have on people’s lives. This has piqued the curiosity of professionals and society to give more value to the unique relationship between humans and animals. With the increased use of animals in our lives, the question arises of whether the benefits of this human and animal interaction are mutual.

The professorship’s objective is to gain a deeper insight into the effects of human and animal interaction, in order to safeguard animal welfare. Dogs and horses are the leading characters in this professorship where we work on three different themes.

Care & Safety

In the ‘Care & Safety’ theme, research is carried out on the impact of the use of animals (dogs and horses) to provide intervention and activities in security, detection and tracking. In these sectors, the animals’ work is very demanding and the intensive interaction beween people and animals is vital to their performance. This theme’s projects therefore focus on inventorying animal deployment, in order to distil risk factors, develop methods that assess animals’ unsuitability for these tasks, and developing methods that measure the (mental) pressure that this work puts on animals.

Sport & Relaxation

Research in the ‘Sport & Relaxation’ theme focuses on awareness of and the sharing of knowledge on animal welfare risks during the use of animals in these sectors. Training animals plays an essential part in this and has to be carried out with great care while using the right knowledge. Due to new technological developments, the impact on the well-being and health of animals used in sport can be monitored more accurately, enabling knowledge to be gathered, and better preparation and training of dogs and horses for sports. Another important subject of this theme is how society views the use of dogs and horses in sport and amusement, and how these sectors deal with this.


This professorship’s ‘Management’ theme concentrates on the breeding, nutrition and keeping of pets and horses. Human and animal interaction plays an important part in this, due to the fact that it are people who determine the course taken in breeding and the way in which animals are kept. The negative consequences of anthropomorphism can lead to abuse in the breeding, nutrition and keeping of animals. An example is the breeding of animals with extreme physical characteristics. In the keeping of animals, anthropomorphism can lead to situations where animals are unable to take care of their own needs (housing, social contact) or are unable to adapt to situations, which is harmful to their welfare.

Connection with education

  • The professorship assigns various research modules to students.
  • The professorship provides lessons in minors on animal welfare and human and animal interaction.


  • Animals with job contracts
  • The use of service animals: How does this affect the animals?