The FCI in the process of modernisation

The Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) is more than one hundred years old; it was actually formed in 1911 and this year celebrates its 103rd anniversary. It now has 89 member countries. Reconciling the different points of view and finding solutions that satisfy everyone (or at least the majority) is never easy.

Each member has its own structures, traditions or reality, whether economic, social or cynological.

There is, however, one area where the desire to move forward together and keep pace with the challenges of our time is undoubted; that area is the modernisation and simplification of working procedures.

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Y. De Clercq
FCI Executive Director
Dogs help to heal. Explaining the social, psychological and somatic effects of Animal-Assisted Therapy
Prof Erhard Olbrich

by Prof Erhard Olbrich, Professor of Psychology at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg; President of the International Society for Animal-Assisted Therapy. Principal area of involvement: service training in the domain of Animal-Assisted Intervention.

Neurobiological studies help to explain a large number of positive effects that have already been observed in Animal-Assisted Therapy for some considerable time: dogs do not judge children and young people according to efficiency criteria specified by a curriculum; instead, in relaxed, but vigilant situations they trigger accompanying emotional processes that can make learning easier. They enhance empathy and also help young people to find greater response and cooperation in their respective peer and family groups. Dogs help to strengthen self-esteem and enhance the experience of self-efficacy. Not least of all, they activate motoric functions in people of all age groups.

The basis of these effects lies in the evolutionarily prepared affinity of humans to their fellow creatures, which Wilson (1984) refers to as biophilia. People can communicate with animals in a non-verbal way. Even more importantly, they sense and learn empathy that occurs between people and dogs in emotional and motoric contagion as well as in empathetic concernment (de Waal, 2007). It is becoming possible to explain communication and empathy beyond the boundaries between the species through joint neurological programs (Kotrschal, 2009). Research projects on mirror neurons (Bauer, 2006; Rizzolatti and Sinigaglia, 2008) and the secretion of hormones that ensues, for example, through stroking a familiar dog or even on eye contact (Uvnäs Moberg, 2003) now also offer physiological explanations for the positive socio-psycho-somatic effects of living together with animals which have been known for thousands of years.

Erhard Olbrich

Link to the video (in German)
(recorded on November 11th, 2011, on the occasion of the FCI Cynological Days organised to celebrate FCI’s Centenary).

You will also find Mr Olbrich’s PowerPoint presentation at