We Don’t Train in Vain: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Human and Canine Caregiver Training

Nicole Pfaller-Sadovsky, Lucia Medina, Karola Dillenburger, Camilo Hurtado-Parrado

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A meta-analytic review was conducted to assess the current knowledge
regarding caregiver training effectiveness for human-human and human-canine
dyads. The results showed that most canine-related sources (66%; n=19) were
case studies reporting a decrease of learner undesired behavior when using oral
instruction/advice (21%; n=6). Most of the human-related research used singlecase designs (57%; n=26) reporting an increase in desired learner behavior
(22%; n=10) when caregivers received multi-component training packages,
including two or more approaches (17%, n=8). The meta-analysis of betweengroup-design studies (n=18) revealed that interventions had a large effect (Hedges’ g=0.88, 95%CI [0.68-1.07]), with packages yielding a slightly larger moderate effect (Hedges’ g=0.76, 95%CI [0.60-0.91]) than oral
instruction/advice alone (Hedges’ g=0.74, 95%CI [0.32-1,15]). Although the
shown effectiveness of caregiver training is promising, the results should be
interpreted cautiously. Due to the preponderance of case studies within caninerelated literature and the insufficient reporting of data across sources, only few studies could be included in the meta-analysis. Overall, more systematic and
comparative research regarding the efficacy of caregivers in behavior change
programs across species is needed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-67
Number of pages67
JournalJournal of Applied Animal Welfare Science
Early online date08 Aug 2019
Publication statusEarly online date - 08 Aug 2019


  • systematic review
  • interventions
  • human-dog relationship
  • caregiver-training


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