Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Applied Behavior Analysis

Major Professor

Trevor Stokes, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jennifer Austin, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Holly Steele, Ph.D.


Developmental disorders, Animals, Communication, Therapy, Classroom


The effects of the presence of a dog on the social interactions between children with developmental disabilities and their teacher were analyzed in this study. We examined whether the presentation of a dog would improve the social interactions of three children with developmental disabilities. A baseline condition consisting of the child and teacher in the presence of three toys, one of which was a toy dog was followed by an intervention in which a real dog was added to the sessions. A multiple baseline design across participants was employed to assess experimental changes in interactions during the intervention condition.

All participants demonstrated an increase in overall positive initiated behaviors (verbal and non-verbal), positive initiated interactions toward the teacher (verbal and non-verbal) and positive initiated interactions toward the dog (verbal and non-verbal). The children also showed an overall decrease in negative initiated behaviors (verbal and nonverbal). Two of the three participants demonstrated a decrease in negative initiated interactions toward their teacher (verbal and non-verbal), while with one participant there was a slight increase in negative non-verbal interactions toward the teacher. All three children showed slight increases in negative initiated non-verbal interactions with the dog while negative initiated verbal interactions toward the dog remained the same.