Perception of dog breeds in a therapeutic setting

WCU Author/Contributor (non-WCU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Ashley Marie Addonisio (Creator)
Western Carolina University (WCU )
Web Site:
Nathan Roth

Abstract: Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) has been documented in the United States dating back to 1944, when farm animals interacted with soldiers suffering from physical injuries or psychological trauma (Altschiller, 2011). Today, several different animals are being used in AAT for a variety of populations, such as individuals with autism, mood disorders, and other psychological concerns. Many animals have a natural tendency to bond with humans, but an effective therapy animal seeks affection and interaction with the client while promoting a warm and safe atmosphere (Nimer & Lundahl, 2007). Dogs are known to be one of the animals that can create this atmosphere, but it is reasonable to assume that not all dog breeds will elicit the same reaction. To date, no study has examined how dog breed and reputation impacts perceived therapeutic qualities of a dog (i.e., therapeutic qualities a dog is thought to possess). The purpose of the current study was to examine the initial perception of dog breeds with good, bad, and neutral reputations on perceived therapeutic qualities and state anxiety. This study aimed to use a generalizable sample, standardized measure, and include a control group to address the gap in the literature on the impact the initial perception of dog breed has on anxiety and perceived therapeutic qualities. A multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) was conducted to test hypotheses one and two with self-report therapeutic alliance and self-report state anxiety being the two dependent variables. Results from the MANOVA found statistically significant difference between reputation groups on the combined dependent variables; however, when variables were considered separately, the only difference to reach significance, was perceived therapeutic qualities. Results found that participants rated good reputation dog breeds significantly higher on perceived therapeutic qualities compared to all other conditions. No significant differences were found between bad and neutral reputation groups on perceived therapeutic qualities. This study will begin to address the gap related to the impact of dog breed on therapeutic alliance.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2020
AAT, animal assisted therapy, dog, dog breed, perception, therapeutic alliance
Animals -- Therapeutic use
Dog breeds
Therapeutic alliance

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