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The efficacy of therapy dogs as teaching adjuncts in promoting empathy in preschool children

By Michael Jeffrey Donaldson

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The purpose of this study was to present empirical evidence about the efficacy of using therapy dogs as teacher adjuncts in schools to promote the social and emotional skills of preschool-aged children. Across a nine-week period of time, preschool-aged children assigned to the treatment condition [T1 (n=17), T2 (n=15)] received 18 morning lessons focused on empathy and humane education. The expectation was that children in these two classrooms would achieve higher levels of empathy as determined by the outcome measures (e.g., EMT) than their peers assigned to the control condition [C (n=15)]. This study employed a mixed-methods approach. The quantitative data and qualitative data yielded conflicting results as to the efficacy of the intervention. Therefore, this study does not offer any unqualified empirical evidence in support of Animal-Assisted Interventions (AAIs) within preschool environments. This study does, however, provide rich information that might enhance the design of future research on the active role of therapy dogs as teacher adjuncts in the teaching of social and emotional knowledge.


Mason N McLary

HABRI Central

Date 2016
Pages 276
Publisher University of Delaware
Location of Publication Newark, Delaware
Department Education
Degree Philosophy
Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal-assisted activities
  2. Animal-assisted interventions
  3. Animal-assisted therapies
  4. Animal roles
  5. Animals in culture
  6. Children
  7. Dogs
  8. Education
  9. Efficacy
  10. emotional skills
  11. Empathy
  12. Health
  13. Mammals
  14. Pets and companion animals
  15. preschools
  16. Service animals
  17. Social Skills
  18. therapy
  19. therapy animals