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Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) Literature

The information here is largely peer reviewed articles or other works that the Healing Pause team finds relevant to the goals of increasing knowledge and share research on AAT/AAI type therapy works. This page will be updated periodically with new information.

AAT Literature: Programs

General Animal Assisted Therapy and "Pause"

"There are a number of ways to pause, physically, mentally and emotionally. A pause can be created by a walk around the block, 20 minutes of meditation, exercising, immersing into a hobby, or simply a high-quality coffee break. The important point is to create time and space to empty your mind and then reflect and filter issues."

Dutra, Ana. “The Power of Pause.” Harvard Business Review, 23 July 2014,

“Therapy Dogs Bring Joy and Healing.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 1 Aug. 2018,

"Animal-assisted interventions, which include both animal-assisted activities and therapies, have historically been beneficial to human health. AAIs are modalities that offer an integrative approach to enhance the treatment of various health concerns. Although many health care professionals and facilities use AAIs in the treatment of patients or clients, extensive opportunities are still available for further implementation into health care."

Morrison, Michele L. “Health Benefits of Animal-Assisted Interventions.” Complementary Health Practice Review, vol. 12, no. 1, 2007, pp. 51–62., doi:10.1177/1533210107302397.

"It has taken me so long to learn the power of a pause. I was a disciple of effort—and misunderstood the pause. I believed pausing wouldn’t just be a short rest, I believed that it would mean ‘losing ground.’ That any lack of forward motion meant you were going backwards. I didn’t understand that the pause is a time of work all its own."

Gretchen Schmelzer. “The Healing Power of Pause.” Gretchen Schmelzer, Gretchen Schmelzer, 21 May 2016, pause.

AAT Literature: List

AAT and Senior Patients

"As the geriatric population in the United States is steadily increasing, many older Americans eventually come to live in some type of long-term care facility. These facilities tend to restrict the resident’s personal belongings, including the possession of pets. Loneliness is common in these facilities (1–3)."

Banks, Marian R., and William A. Banks. “The Effects of Group and Individual Animal-Assisted Therapy on Loneliness in Residents of Long-Term Care Facilities.” Anthrozoös, vol. 18, no. 4, 2005, pp. 396–408., doi:10.2752/089279305785593983.

"This evaluation of the impact of AAI highlights the importance of receipt of intervention in AAI outcomes. Engagement in BIs during AAI contributes to the benefits participants experience. The results suggest that specific types of BIs are associated with improvements in each outcome."

Erika Friedmann, Elizabeth Galik, Sue A. Thomas, Sue Hall, Jooyoung Cheon, Narae Han, Hee Jun Kim, Sherry McAtee & Nancy R. Gee (2019) Relationship of Behavioral Interactions during an Animal-assisted Intervention in Assisted Living to Health-related Outcomes, Anthrozoös, 32:2, 221-238, DOI: 10.1080/08927936.2019.1569905

"Repeated visits by a therapy dog–handler team decreased older adults’ heart rate and blood pressure over time. the decrease over time in systolic blood pressure was only found for the older adults with systolic blood pressure ≥ 130 mmhg. In addition, systolic blood pressure was significantly lower in the dog study, compared with the controls. "

Linda Handlin, Anne Nilsson, Lena Lidfors, Maria Petersson & Kerstin Uvnäs- Moberg (2018) The Effects of a Therapy Dog on the Blood Pressure and Heart Rate of Older Residents in a Nursing Home, Anthrozoös, 31:5, 567-576, DOI: 10.1080/08927936.2018.1505268

"There is mounting empirical evidence supporting the psychological and physical therapeutic health benefits of AAIs for older adults. With the abundance of new evidence generated in this field, research suggests that as a society with a rapidly growing older population (e.g., by 2030 older adults will represent 20.6% of the total US population; Janssen, 2016), researchers and practitioners must think of creative ways to connect older adults with companion animals."

Cheryl A. Krause-Parello, Elise E. Gulick & Basilia Basin (2019) Loneliness, Depression, and Physical Activity in Older Adults: The Therapeutic Role of Human–Animal Interactions, Anthrozoös, 32:2, 239-254, DOI: 10.1080/08927936.2019.1569906

Klimova, B., Toman, J. & Kuca, K. Effectiveness of the dog therapy for patients with dementia - a systematic review. BMC Psychiatry 19, 276 (2019).

Zafra-Tanaka, Jessica Hanae, et al. “Effects of Dog-Assisted Therapy in Adults with Dementia: a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” BMC Psychiatry, vol. 19, no. 1, 2019, doi:10.1186/s12888-018-2009-z.

AAT Literature: List

AAT In Medical Facilities

"In conclusion, the individual and social benefits gained by dog-assisted therapy may aid in the prevention, improvement and development of children with various disabilities. Dog-assisted therapy can be developed and used as a supportive tool in veterinary public health to help the rehabilitation of children with disabilities."

Elmacı, Dilek, and Sibel Cevizci. “Dog-Assisted Therapies and Activities in Rehabilitation of Children with Cerebral Palsy and Physical and Mental Disabilities.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, vol. 12, no. 5, Dec. 2015, pp. 5046–5060., doi:10.3390/ijerph120505046.

Gussgard, Anne M., et al. “Dog‐Assisted Therapy in the Dental Clinic. Part B. Hazards and Assessment of Potential Risks to the Health and Safety of the Dental Therapy Dog.” Clinical and Experimental Dental Research, vol. 5, no. 6, 2019, pp. 701–711., doi:10.1002/cre2.239.

"Veterans on palliative care may struggle to find the motivation to engage in therapies or even leave their rooms. During the course of this study, there were several instances when a participant refused other activities but made a specific effort to take part in the study sessions based on the opportunity for a dog visit. "

Krause-Parello, Cheryl A., et al. “Effects of VA Facility Dog on Hospitalized Veterans Seen by a Palliative Care Psychologist: An Innovative Approach to Impacting Stress Indicators.” American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine®, vol. 35, no. 1, Jan. 2018, pp. 5–14, doi:10.1177/1049909116675571.

"With a soaring trend of the incorporation of complementary therapies into the mainstream of health care, animal-facilitated therapy has become a popular interest for the health care team to integrate into a patient's plan of care. This systematic literature summarizes the current research on the use of animal therapy in several patient populations and provides nursing implications for practice."

Matuszek, Sarah. “Animal-Facilitated Therapy in Various Patient Populations.” Holistic Nursing Practice, vol. 24, no. 4, 2010, pp. 187–203., doi:10.1097/hnp.0b013e3181e90197.

Of 125 ‘‘patient’’ and 105 staff responses, most were favorable. Ninety-three percent of patients and 95% of staff agreed that TDs should visit EDs; 87.8% of patients and 92% of staff approved of TDs for both adult and pediatric patients. Fewer than 5% of either patients or staff were afraid of the TDs. Fewer than 10% of patients and staff thought the TDs posed a sanitary risk or interfered with staff work.

Nahm, Nickolas, et al. “Therapy Dogs in the Emergency Department.” Western Journal of Emergency Medicine, vol. 13, no. 4, 2012, pp. 363–365., doi:10.5811/westjem.2011.5.6574.doi:10.2752/089279305785593983.

AAT Literature: List

AAT and Children

"Lastly, but importantly, research involving AAI needs to ensure a strict and thorough protocol for risk assessment measures such as the training level and certification of dogs/handlers, allergy and phobia information, and child safety training in relation to understanding dog behavioural signals; these will ultimately protect the welfare and safety of staff, children, and animals involved in interventions."

Brelsford, Victoria, et al. “Animal-Assisted Interventions in the Classroom—A Systematic Review.” International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, vol. 14, no. 7, 2017, p. 669., doi:10.3390/ijerph14070669.

"Trained therapy dogs are becoming an increasingly common sight in many educational and health care settings. This article, coauthored by a college professor, a Therapy Dogs International, Inc., Evaluator and local program director, and a registered nurse reviews the research on using regis- tered therapy dogs as adjuncts in school programs and health care treatment plans for children ages 5–8. It addresses to the most commonly raised objections to allowing dogs in classrooms and patient rooms and offers practical guidelines for maximizing the positive outcomes of animal- assisted activities and therapy (AAA/T)."

Jalongo, Mary Renck, et al. “Canine Visitors: The Influence of Therapy Dogs on Young Childrens Learning and Well-Being in Classrooms and Hospitals.” Early Childhood Education Journal, vol. 32, no. 1, 2004, pp. 9–16., doi:10.1023/b:ecej.0000039638.60714.5f.

Paddock, Catharine. “Therapy Dogs Have Calming Effect on Children Having Cancer ...” Medical News Today, Medical News Today, 23 Oct. 2015,

"The findings indicated that using therapy dogs in schools could benefit students by serving as an intervention and helping students learn skills that result in better connection and relationships, and skills that can assist with self- regulation and self-control. "

Putz, Jordan N., "Animal-Assisted Therapy and its Effects on Children in Schools" (2014). Master of Social Work Clinical Research Papers. Paper 379.

"Across both treatment groups, parents reported improvements in children’s social skills, prosocial behaviors, and problematic behaviors. In both groups, the severity of ADHD symptoms declined during the course of treatment; however, children who received the CAI model exhibited greater reductions in the severity of ADHD symptoms than did children who received cognitive-behavioral therapy without CAI."

Schuck, Sabrina E. B., et al. “Canine-Assisted Therapy for Children With ADHD.” Journal of Attention Disorders, vol. 19, no. 2, 2013, pp. 125–137., doi:10.1177/1087054713502080.

"Results from the present study show high rates of success for students when therapy dogs are being used in school. The dogs can not only help students achieve academic success but they can also be helpful in a counseling setting as well."

Sheckler, Kimberly Ann. “The Effect of Therapy Dogs on Children in a Learning Environment.” Rowan Digital Works, 13 June 2017,

"The objective of this study was to propose an intervention and safety protocol for performing animal-assisted therapy (AAT) and evaluating its efficacy in children under outpatient oncological treatment based on psychological, physiological, and quality of life indicators for the children and caregivers."

Silva, Nathiana B., and Flávia L. Osório. “Impact of an Animal-Assisted Therapy Programme on Physiological and Psychosocial Variables of Paediatric Oncology Patients.” Plos One, vol. 13, no. 4, Apr. 2018, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0194731.

AAT Literature: List

AAT and Criminal Justice and Disasters

"Courthouse facility dogs are expertly trained canines that assist individuals with psychological, emotional, or physical difficulties in a myriad of courtroom situations. While these animals are increasingly used to assist young witnesses in court, it is not yet known whether they are prejudicial to defendants or the witnesses they accompany during trial."

Burd, Kayla & Mcquiston, Dawn. (2019). Facility Dogs in the Courtroom: Comfort Without Prejudice?. Criminal Justice Review. 10.1177/0734016819844298. 

"The concept applied to this model was the introduction of a therapy dog interaction during investigations involving crimes against children to reduce anxiety and increase communication."

Holton, Jessie, "Applying Problem-of-Practice Methods from the Discipline of Higher Education within the Justice System: Turning the Concept of Therapy Dogs for Child Victims into a Statewide Initiative." (2015). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 677.

Krause-Parello, Cheryl A., et al. “Examining the Effects of a Service-Trained Facility Dog on Stress in Children Undergoing Forensic Interview for Allegations of Child Sexual Abuse.” Journal of Child Sexual Abuse, vol. 27, no. 3, 2018, pp. 305–320., doi:10.1080/10538712.2018.1443303.

Spruin, Elizabeth. “Dogs in the Criminal Justice System: Consideration of Facility and Therapy Dogs.” Pet Behaviour Science, no. 5, 2018, p. 1., doi:10.21071/pbs.v0i5.10084.

AAT Literature: List

AAT and Behavior and Learning Topics

"The use of therapy dogs in schools is becoming more common, but is still a new idea to many. As further research is done, the use of therapy dogs in an educational setting may increase. Schools may implement the use of therapy dogs in the form of canine- assisted activities, and/or as a more formal intervention for students."

Beck, Katie R., "The Impact of Canine-Assisted Therapy and Activities on Children in an Educational Setting" (2015). Education Masters. Paper 312.

"Interventions with therapy dogs rely upon brief interactions with these animals (AAI). All the interventions reviewed here occurred in the presence of the therapist, who followed a predetermined research protocol that included structured one-to-one (individual) activities designed to stimulate social behaviors and language use. In all cases, results were encouraging since interaction with dogs was able to dampen social isolation and withdrawal in children."

Alessandra Berry, Marta Borgi, Nadia Francia, Enrico Alleva, and Francesca Cirulli.The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.Feb 2013.73-80.

"Over time, the initial excitement of learning about and/or reading to the

dog may develop into long-term intrinsic motivation to read through related stimulating, hands-on reading, writing, oral, and collaborative literacy activities about dogs and other animals."

Friesen, Lori. “How a Therapy Dog May Inspire Student Literacy Engagement in the Elementary Language Arts Classroom.” LEARNing Landscapes,

"However, it is conceivable that therapy dogs could be added to foreign language classes. Just as therapy dogs have been found to be very effective at increasing children’s reading skills (Friesen, 2010), they could also help college students cope with the pressures and stressors associated with higher education classes."

Henry, Elaine Maralee, "Do Dogs Increase Learning? The Effect of Therapy Dogs on Academic Stress and Spanish Second Language Learning. " Master's Thesis, University of Tennessee, 2013.

"Based on the review of thirty articles on the benefits of therapy dogs in classrooms, there appears to be many benefits, both anecdotal and empirical. More empirical research studies have been published in the last ten years. There is strong support for increased confidence, literacy skills and actual reading scores when children read to dogs. Additionally, much evidence supports the emotional and social benefits of children interacting with a dog in the classroom."

Kropp, Jerri J. and Mikaela M. Shupp. “Review of the Research: Are Therapy Dogs in Classrooms Beneficial?.” (2017).

"This study has shown that even with a time limited intervention spending time with dogs can reduce both perceived stress (state anxiety inventory) and biological markers of stress (blood pressure) in University students."

Emily Wood, Sally Ohlsen, Jennifer Thompson, Joe Hulin & Louise Knowles (2018) The feasibility of brief dog-assisted therapy on university students stress levels: the PAwS study, Journal of Mental Health, 27:3, 263-268, DOI: 10.1080/09638237.2017.1385737

AAT Literature: List
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