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Analysis of child-dog play behavior in child psychiatry

By A. Prothmann, K. Albrecht, S. Dietrich, U. Hornfeck, S. Stieber, C. Ettrich

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Abstract

Children have a natural affinity for animals and most often communicate with them nonverbally; nonverbal communication is authentic and difficult to influence deliberately. This study examines whether characteristic interaction patterns exist during pet-facilitated therapy with dogs, and whether these can be used for diagnosing psychiatric disorders in children and adolescents. Forty children and adolescents with anorexia, bulimia, anxiety disorder or autism (classified according to the International Classification of Diseases - ICD 10) were monitored while in the same room as a therapy dog; their behaviour during a 25-minute encounter was video-recorded and analysed. The patients demonstrated significant diagnosis-specific behavioral differences; the greatest differences were found when the autistic patients were compared with the anxiety and eating disorder patients. The autistic children's behaviour was characterized by many brief interaction phases, whereas anxiety disorder patients interacted less often, with longer lasting episodes. While autistic children showed greater fear of the dog, anxiety disorder patients were more afraid of inter-human contact. A discriminant analysis assigned 77.5% of the patients to the correct diagnostic group. Child-dog interaction analysis call provide a valuable contribution to the psycho-diagnosis of children and adolescents.

Date 2005
Publication Title Anthrozoos
Volume 18
Issue 1
Pages 43-58
ISBN/ISSN 0892-7936
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/089279305785594261
Author Address Clinic of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, University of Leipzig, Wundtstrasse 9, 04275 Leipzig, Germany.Anke.Prothmann@medizin.uni-leipzig.de
Additional Language English
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Tags
  1. Anxiety
  2. Autism
  3. Children
  4. Communication
  5. Diagnosis
  6. Dogs
  7. Eating disorders
  8. Human-animal relationships
  9. Inappetence
  10. Mammals
  11. Mental disorders
  12. Mental illness
  13. Mental stress
  14. peer-reviewed
  15. Pets and companion animals
  16. Pet therapy
  17. Primates
  18. psychiatric disorders
  19. Psychological stress
Badges
  1. peer-reviewed