Benefits of Having a Therapy Dog in the Classroom: A Review of Research
Presentation given at the European Early Childhood Education Research Association. Research on the benefits of having a therapy dog in the classroom will be summarised. These benefits include increased reading and language skills, motivation in motor tasks, increased social competence and empathy, and decreased aggression. Several studies have demonstrated that the presence of a therapy dog in a classroom can contribute to social and educational gains for children (Chandler, 2012). ''Research over the past 30 years indicates that therapy dogs may offer physiological, emotional, social, and physical support for children'' (Friesen, 2009, p. 261.) In addition, ''children's thinking at all ages remains grounded in sensory experiences'' which engage all of the senses (Melson, 2001 p. 79). Existing research to date on the benefits of having a therapy dog in the classroom will be presented. Since this is a review of the literature, there are no ethical considerations. The use of therapy dogs with children is successful due to children's natural tendency to open up to animals and the stress-moderating effect of the calm and non-judgmental presence of a therapy dog. Common concerns and objections to having a therapy dog in a school will be discussed. These include sanitation concerns, safety considerations, allergies, fear of dogs, and cultural differences. Recommended policies and procedures for having a therapy dog in the classroom will be discussed.
European Early Childhood Education Research Association
Kropp, Jerri J., Mikaela Shupp.
"Benefits of Having a Therapy Dog in the Classroom: A Review of Research."
School of Human Ecology Faculty Presentations.