Human-animal bond is defined as the mutually beneficial relationship between humans and animals. Recent years have seen increasing research regarding the benefits of interaction with animals for autistic children. However, there continue to be limited studies exploring the impact of this interaction on the welfare of therapy dogs. As part of a pilot randomised control trial assessing the efficacy of canine-assisted occupational therapy with autistic children, this project assessed welfare markers of the therapy dog involved. A total of twenty-one saliva samples were taken from the therapy dog to assess cortisol, alpha amylase, and oxytocin concentrations at home and throughout the treatment days. Additionally, six hours of therapy session videos were analysed for stress indicators of canine behaviour. No significant differences were found between days spent at home and treatment days for any of the biomarkers or stress indicators. Results suggest that the therapy dog involved did not experience increased stress resulting from interaction with the autistic children throughout the therapy sessions. This study supports the need for further research regarding therapy dog welfare when interacting with autistic children including an increased sample size of therapy dogs and therapists.
|Publication Title||Animals (Basel)|
|Author Address||School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD 4072, Australia.School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD 4072, Australia.School of Biomedical Science, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD 4072, Australia.|
|Cite this work||
Researchers should cite this work as follows: