To date, research investigating the effects of companion dogs in families with children is scarce (Walsh, 2009), and it is even more scarce for families of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). The present study investigated the effects of companion dogs in families with and without children with ASD. Twenty families were interviewed about children's and parents' interactions with their dogs. The analyses were based on the Grounded Theory (Glaser & Strauss, 1967). Positive and negative effects of companion dogs were related to the core category, match, which represented the fit between dog characteristics and the characteristics of children and parents, respectively. A good match resulted in more benefits for family members. Dog knowledge, expectations, and family stages moderated match. Overall, families with children with ASD experienced more positive effects (e.g., direct and indirect social support). Theoretical and applied implications of these findings are addressed.
|Publisher||Carleton University (Canada)|
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