The study will monitor and evaluate the impact of animal-assisted intervention sessions have on therapy dogs. Therapy dogs and their handlers will be interacting with small groups of children during three levels of stress conditions.
Behavioral and physiological parameters will be used to determine if the dogs’ well-being is affected and to define the changes that occur as the therapy sessions take place.
Samples of dog saliva will be obtained by letting the dog chew on a cotton swab and used to determine the levels of cortisol and oxytocin, two hormones associated with stress and well-being, which will provide some physiological parameter to determine whether the interaction has positive or negative impact on the dogs.
Heart rate of the dogs will also be monitored in a non-invasive manner to determine the possible presence of an acute stressor.
Interactions will also be continually monitored by trained observers to facility the identification of dog behaviors indicative of stress.
For more information about the study, please contact Project Coordinator Lindsay Rojas at 516 216-0127.