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Behavioral responses of nursing home residents to visits from a person with a dog, a robot seal or a toy cat

By K. Thodberg, L. U. Sorensen, P. B. Videbech, P. H. Poulsen, B. Houbak, V. Damgaard, I. Keseler, D. Edwards, J. W. Christensen

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Previous studies suggest that contact with dogs can positively affect the wellbeing of elderly people in nursing homes, but there is a lack of research investigating the causal pathways of these effects. One such pathway may relate to the behavioral responses of the elderly when interacting with a dog. The present study compared the immediate behavioral responses of nursing home residents to bi-weekly visits from a person accompanied by either a dog, a robot seal (PARO), or a soft toy cat, using a randomized controlled design. A total of 100 nursing home residents completed the study. Each participant received a total of 12 visits, during which their behaviors, including interactions between the visitor and the accompanying animal (real or artificial), were recorded. Also, data on cognitive impairment, presence of depressive symptoms, age, time lived in the nursing home, dementia diagnoses, and gender were collected. We found that the immediate responses to, and interaction with, the visiting animal depended on the type of animal that was brought along. The dog and the interactive robot seal triggered the most interaction, in the form of physical contact ( F(2,103)=7.50, p

Publication Title Anthrozoos
Volume 29
Issue 1
Pages 107-121
ISBN/ISSN 0892-7936
DOI 10.1080/08927936.2015.1089011
Language English
Author Address Department of Animal Science, Aarhus University, P.O. Box 50, DK-8830, Tjele,
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animals
  3. Anthrozoology
  4. Behavioral research
  5. Canidae
  6. Canine
  7. Carnivores
  8. Dementia
  9. Depression
  10. Diseases and injuries of animals
  11. Dogs
  12. Effect
  13. Eyes
  14. Homes
  15. Humans
  16. Interactions
  17. Mammals
  18. Men
  19. Nursing homes
  20. Older adults
  21. Pets and companion animals
  22. Primates
  23. Research
  24. social anthropology
  25. Social psychology and social anthropology
  26. Symptoms
  27. therapy
  28. vertebrates
  29. Veterinary sciences
  30. Zoology