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Psychology  2024 

Dog Assisted Activities and Their Effect on the Depression of Elementary Students

DOI: 10.4236/psych.2024.151001, PP. 1-15

Keywords: Dog Assisted Interventions, Dog Assisted Activities, Students’ Depression

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Abstract:

The study took place in a Greek elementary school and the aim was to examine the effect of a Dog Assisted Activity (DAA) programme on the students’ depressive symptomatology. The researchers’ hypothesis was whether the interaction of the students with a trained dog will affect their depression symptomatology; measured via a self-completed questionnaire. The control group (n = 25) attended lectures on dog training while the experimental group (n = 19) interacted with a trained dog. There were two measurements: before, and immediately after the intervention. The DDA programme was granted ethical approval as appropriate and designed so as to prioritise the health, safety and welfare of both the participants and the dog. The data collected was analysed in SPSS and the results indicated a significant decrease in the experimental group student’s depression scores (p = .018). The researchers acknowledge the existence of multiple factor that may contribute to the decrease of depression and certain study design limitations which may affect the generalisation of the results. However, the present study’s results suggest that DAA programmes may potentially have a positive effect on the psychological well-being of elementary school students. According to the researcher’s knowledge, that was the first study conducted in Greece examining the effect of a DDA programme on the depression of elementary students. Therefore, further research and study are needed in this area to get a better understanding and reach safer conclusions.

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