Researchers at the University of Gdansk are conducting a study to explore the relationship between dogs and humans in public spaces. The results of this study may impact the presence of dogs in places such as workplaces and educational institutions, which would be great news for dog owners.
Many dog owners would agree that having their furry companion by their side while working or studying can make the experience more pleasant. This has become especially apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic, as students and employees have had to adapt to remote learning and working. However, not all public places allow dogs to be present. The University of Gdansk has taken steps to address this issue.
The impact of dog companionship
Researchers from the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Gdansk (Polish: Wydział Nauk Społecznych, WNS) have launched a study entitled "Pies na WNS" (English: "A dog at WNS"). The interdisciplinary research project "Couple and Dog: Relationships and Interspecies Bonds in Private Life and Public Space" is being led by Dr Magdalena Gajewska from the Institute of Sociology. The project is being conducted with the support of a grant from the Dean of the WNS. It involves the participation of Dr Magdalena Żadkowska from the Institute of Sociology and Dr Natalia Treder-Rochna from the Institute of Psychology.
During an interview with PAP, Dr Magdalena Gajewska explained the origin of the project. "This year, a nationwide team of researchers, led by Dr. Magdalena Żadkowska, submitted a project on the life of interspecies families to the NCN OPUS competition. The idea originated from our research and experience studying family life and emotional relationships with companion animals."
Dogs at work, dogs in labs
Many dog owners have shared that bringing their pets to work positively impacts their mental well-being. This inspired researchers to investigate whether students and staff at the University of Gdansk would also benefit from having their dogs with them on campus.
"Interspecies relationships don't have to be separate from our personal lives, and educational or work environments can support them. There are situations where students require the support of their animal companions and situations where the animals need support from us," Dr Magdalena Gajewska explained in an interview with PAP.
The team is conducting a study to understand the needs of dogs and their owners while also taking into account the impact of dogs on staff and students who do not own any pets. The study aims to assess the well-being of dog owners and their furry companions in public spaces and the impact of dogs on teaching processes and integration in the student community.
Before starting her study, Dr. Gajewska consulted with the University of Life Sciences in Wrocław and the Academy of Fine Arts in Gdańsk to receive feedback on the presence of dogs. It's worth noting that both universities already allow dogs in certain classes.
More than a dozen people with dogs are participating in the ongoing study at the University of Gdansk. Initially, 34 applicants applied for 30 spots, but some withdrew due to their concern for their pets’ well-being.
It is mandatory for all dogs participating in the "Pies na WNS" project to be brought to the university on a leash. Dog owners are required to bring a muzzle with them. Before the project started, the researchers collected copies of vaccination records and a photo of the pet from the dog owners for identification purposes.
The project will continue until the end of January 2024, which includes the winter session. Once the data is collected, the researchers will evaluate it, and the findings will be used to create recommendations for the dean. Let’s hope that in the future, it may be possible for anyone who wants to bring their dog to the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Gdansk, thanks to the insights gained from this research.