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Scientists from the University of British Columbia, Okanagan, have found that therapy dogs can help children learn life-long social skills. The study found that therapy dogs help children learn, improve their moods, and be more active during class lessons. The research was conducted to determine the effectiveness of therapy dogs to children attending the social skill-training program.

What are therapy dogs?

Therapy dogs, working alongside their handlers, visit various facilities like nursing homes, hospitals, and schools and allow people in these facilities to interact with a pet friend. For more than 30 years, the Alliance of Therapy Dogs has been registering and certifying therapy dogs used in various care organizations.

During training, more attention is given to the dog’s temperament and relationship with its handler. Those that are found to be more friend and non-temperament are certified and start visiting various places to offer cuddling experiences.

Scientists from the University of British Columbia observed 22 children who took part in social skill sessions. In these sessions, children learned basic new skills like introducing themselves to others in their therapy dog’s presence. After each session, the children went back to attend classes with their peers. They were then reunited with their therapy dogs in the presence of a handler. The children then practiced their learned social skills with local university students.

In a statement, study author Nicole Harris said dog lovers have long held on to the assumption that dog-assisted intervention is effective because people naturally love dogs. He is while this is true, there has been no research to back up these assumptions.

Children can learn to be more focused and positive from therapy dogs

During the study, researchers recorded various data pieces as the children learn and practice new social skills. Out of all researchers, 87% reported children’s engagement levels as “very or extremely engaged.”

After the entire course, a number of children were selected to give their experience. It happens all the eight children selected shared the same experience. All the children agreed that that the dog helped in making the sessions more lively and enjoyable.