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Shaping Inter-Species Connectedness

This interdisciplinary project aims to investigate different forms of human-animal connectedness and the ways in which they are shaped by different training cultures.

We focus on dog training as a particular example and we look at five cases:

  • police dogs
  • gun dogs
  • guide dogs
  • companion dogs
  • therapy dog’s training

The project is interdisciplinary, combining expertise from the social sciences and animal sciences and it explores different training practices, the effects they have on dog-human relationships and on the welfare of human and animal participants.

We ask whether training practices contribute to the emergence of new, post-human forms of human-animal relations. The research uses an innovative methodology, combining social and natural scientific approaches, and puts into practice a pioneering way of assessing animals’ emotional state.

The project is a collaboration between the University of Warwick, Cardiff University and SRUC-Edinburgh.


The project team organised a session at the Annual Royal Geographical Society–Institute of British Geographers conference in Cardiff on 30 August 2018, entitled ‘Interspecies relatings: the emergence of new forms of human-animal engagement’.

This session explored the emergence of new understandings of human-animal engagement and the possibilities they present for the development of different and less exploitative forms of inter-species relating. The discussion is located in the expanding landscape of less human-centred relations between human and non-human animals and the shift away from anthropocentric strategies of domination and exploitation towards more empathetic, respectful and inter-agentic relationships.

The team presented the paper:

‘Changing dimensions of power: an exploration of dog training cultures in the UK’ (Nickie Charles, Mara Miele, Harriet Smith and Rebekah Fox),

Professor Gail Davies, Exeter University, acted as discussant.

The project team

Mara Miele

Professor Mara Miele

Professor in Human Geography

Dr Harriet Smith

Research Associate


This research was made possible through the support of the following organisations: