Benefits of Assistance Dogs: A Review

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ABSTRACT.Objective: To review outcome research concerning placement of trained assistance dogs (ADs), focusing primarily on service dogs for people with mobility impairments and hearing dogs for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing. Design: The authors place the relatively small body of literature on ADs in the context of relevant research on the benefits of human–animal contact and pet ownership. Results: While the research specific to ADs generally shows positive benefits, the small number of studies and methodological limitations of these studies preclude any clear conclusions. Recommendations for future research on ADs include the use of longitudinal designs, matched comparison groups, standardized measures that assess diverse areas of functioning, and behavioral self-monitoring for daily activities.

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