Perceptions and Pragmatics of Therapy Dog Implementation in Schools
The benefits of the application of therapy dogs have been well documented. Studies related to therapy dogs have shown success in reducing stress and anxiety, improving behavior and self-esteem, increasing reading scores, promoting socialization and motivation, increasing rates of de-escalation, and helping younger children develop empathy. Common concerns related to the use of therapy dogs have previously been documented. These concerns include child and animal welfare, animal hygiene, zoonotic disease, and fear or cultural differences. Concerns such as these may cause schools to deny the use of therapy dogs in their facilities. The purpose of this qualitative study was to determine what problems have manifested in schools and how they compare to concerns documented by previous studies. Staff in Pennsylvania schools were surveyed to identify what, if any, problems arose during the implementation of therapy dog programs within their districts, and whether staff perceptions changed after implementation. Results from this study can assist school stakeholders in decision-making and policy development related to therapy dog implementation. Despite problems that have manifested, including those specific to K-12 schools, staff perspectives of therapy dogs became more favorable after implementation.
Dr. Robert Isherwood
Dr. Matthew EricksonDr. Chad Kinsey
Slippery Rock University of PennsylvaniaCollege of EducationSpecial Education
Degree of Doctor of Education (Ed. D.)
Therapy dogFacility dogAnimal-assisted therapyAnimal-assisted activityAnimal-assisted educationAnimal-assisted interventions
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