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Obstacles and anticipated problems with acquiring assistance dogs, as expressed by Japanese people with physical disabilities

By M. Yamamoto, L. A. Hart, M. Ohta, K. Matsumoto, N. Ohtani

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In western countries, such as the United States and the United Kingdom, many people with disabilities benefit from the help their assistance dogs provide. In contrast, assistance dogs have not become widespread in Japan. This study explores the perspectives of Japanese people with disabilities, including the obstacles they have experienced when considering acquiring an assistance dog. A paper-based questionnaire was used to investigate the experiences of people with orthopedic, hearing, or visual disabilities. The results showed that a minority of participants with orthopedic (13.9%), hearing (31.6%), or visual (16.0%) disabilities hoped to live with an assistance dog. Younger people (18-59 years of age) hoped to have one more often than older people (over 60 years of age), which was related to their frequency of going out of the house. Younger people were more active in going outside regularly; older women were the least active. People with orthopedic disabilities were less active than those with other disabilities. Younger people were also more experienced in keeping dogs, and liked playing with them more. Younger women showed the greatest interest in living with an assistance dog, and older women the least interest; targeting information and encouragement to younger women may be most productive for placing dogs. Among people who did not hope to acquire an assistance dog, 6.1-11.6% of them felt sorry for dogs that are required to go through training, and 8.3-16.1% of them answered that they hated dogs. Our results indicated that Japanese are influenced by cultural, historical, and environmental contexts, and are not yet fully familiar with and accepting of the concepts of working dogs that are typical in the western countries. Most of the participants who hoped to live with an assistance dog had not actually applied for one. They gave the following reasons: there were inevitable negative aspects of living with dogs and sources of information, training systems, and policies by the governments and/or assistance dog organizations were cumbersome and inconvenient. The overall strategies to provide assistance dogs to people with disabilities need to be more accessible and accommodate the specific needs of the people who have disabilities.

Publication Title Human-Animal Interaction Bulletin
Volume 2
Issue 1
Pages 59-79
Language English
Author Address School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, 1089 Veterinary Medicine Drive, 3207 VM3B, Davis, CA 95616,
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Age
  2. Animal behavior
  3. Animals
  4. APEC countries
  5. Asia
  6. Attitudes
  7. Canidae
  8. Canine
  9. Carnivores
  10. Culture
  11. Developed countries
  12. Disabilities
  13. Disorders
  14. Dogs
  15. Emotions
  16. Environment
  17. Hearing impairment
  18. Humans
  19. Japan
  20. Mammals
  21. Men
  22. Non-communicable diseases and injuries
  23. OECD countries
  24. Orthopedics
  25. peer-reviewed
  26. Pets and companion animals
  27. physical activity
  28. Primates
  29. prophylaxis
  30. Psychiatry and psychology
  31. Psychotherapy
  32. Relationships
  33. sex differences
  34. Social psychology and social anthropology
  35. therapy
  36. training of animals
  37. vertebrates
  38. vision
  39. Women
  40. Young Adult
  1. peer-reviewed