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School-based social training with and without dogs: evaluation of their effectiveness

By I. Tissen, A. Hergovich, C. Spiel

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This study examined the effects of different training methods on social behavior, empathy, and aggression (open and relational) in children (third-graders) at several intervals. There were three experimental conditions: "Social training without dogs," "Social training with dogs," and "Dog attendance without social training." The project was carried out in three elementary schools - three classes per school (total of 230 children) - over a period of 10 weeks. The assignment of experimental conditions to classes within each school was random. There were ten training sessions (90 minutes each): one session per week. The class teachers and pupils filled in questionnaires before the start of training and after the completion of the 10-week program, and the pupils did so once again three weeks after that. Data were analyzed using analysis of covariance for repeated measures on one factor. The respective initial values were incorporated into the computation as covariates. The teacher's survey revealed a significant improvement in pupils' social behavior, irrespective of program. The pupils showed a significant increase in empathy, irrespective of program; however, the effect was not stable over time. A significant advantage with respect to open and relational aggression was demonstrated by the "Social training with dogs" program over the other two alternatives.

Date 2007
Publication Title Anthrozoos
Volume 20
Issue 4
Pages 365-373
ISBN/ISSN 0892-7936
Language English
Author Address Institute of Economic Psychology, Educational Psychology and Evaluation, University of Vienna, Liebigg. 5, 1010 Vienna,
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Aggression
  2. Animal behavior
  3. Anthrozoology
  4. Attitudes
  5. Austria
  6. Children
  7. Developed countries
  8. Dogs
  9. Education
  10. Emotions
  11. Europe
  12. Human-animal relationships
  13. Mammals
  14. Methodologies
  15. Methods
  16. OECD countries
  17. peer-reviewed
  18. Pets and companion animals
  19. Primates
  20. Relationships
  21. Schools
  22. Social behavior
  23. Social psychology and social anthropology
  24. training
  1. peer-reviewed