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Assessing the Dog: A Theoretical Analysis of the Companion Animal’s Actions in Human-Animal Interactions

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Companion animals are proposed as valuable assets in human-animal interaction (HAI) for human-health interventions. The benefit of a HAI is presumably based on the interaction between the two species. Although the actions and reactions of the human are routinely evaluated, nominal consideration is given to the influence of the nonhuman animal’s actions in the interaction as well as in the outcome of the intervention despite evidence in studies demonstrating the cognitive, emotional, and physical capabilities of the animal. The attributes of the dog and the current role of the dog in animal-assisted therapy (AAT) are presented in this theoretical analysis as the foundation for assessment of the animal in HAI for human-health interventions. Rationale for the legitimacy of the dog (animal) as a subjective participant and potential methods of objective measurement for the dog as a participant in AAT and HAI are discussed.

Affiliations: 1: Division of Orthopedic Surgery, Children’s Mercy Hospital Kansas City, mo ; 2: University of Missouri-Kansas City mo


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