Behavior of Children with Learning Disabilities Interacting with a Therapy Dog
Authors: Limond, Jennifer A.; Bradshaw, John W.S.; Cormack, Magnus K.F.
Source: Anthrozoos: A Multidisciplinary Journal of The Interactions of People & Animals, 1 June 1997, vol. 10, no. 2-1, pp. 84-89(6)
Abstract:Therapy using animals is now a widespread phenomenon, but some authorities have argued that there is insufficient evidence either to justify or to guide animal-assisted therapy. This reflects a paucity of adequate quantitative methodology for investigations in this area. The little research that has been carried out suggests that animal presence may increase general social behavior. Our study aimed to develop a methodology to investigate the effects of a dog on the behavior of children with severe learning disabilities. A repeated measures design was used to observe eight children with Down's syndrome in controlled sessions, under the direction of an adult. Each session consisted of seven minutes of interaction with a real dog, and seven minutes with an imitation dog. Differences in visual attending, and verbal and non-verbal initiation and response behaviors indicated that the real dog provided a more sustained focus for positive and co-operative interactions with itself and the adult, than did the imitation dog.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: June 1, 1997