Dog training as a violence prevention tool for at-risk adolescents

R. Lee Zasloff, Lynette A Hart, Joan Melrod Weiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

Humane education programs often target at-risk children and seek to teach empathy and gentleness with animals, but few of these have been assessed. This prospective, longitudinal study examined the effects of "Teaching Love and Compassion" (TLC), a humane education program employing educational group discussions and dog training for seventh-grade, inner city youth in Los Angeles, California, The TLC program is offered to groups of 10 to 12 students during their three-week vacation at the year-round school. Students for the experimental and control groups were selected from the pool of those scoring below the 25th percentile in reading and mathematics. The study, conducted over a two-year period, assessed four successive sessions, comprising an experimental group of 41 children and a control group of 42 children. In morning sessions, the experimental group had discussions focusing on interpersonal issues and conflict management. In the afternoons they were taught the proper care and obedience training of shelter dogs. Pre-, post-, and follow-up tests, specially developed to accommodate the children's reading ability and scheduling constraints, were given to both the experimental and control groups to assess their knowledge of animal care, conflict management skills, attitudes toward self and others, and fear of dogs. Members of the experimental group increased their understanding of pet care and the needs of animals and retained this information more than did the control group for all four TLC sessions, both at post-testing (F=58.4, p=0.0001) and follow-up testing (F=18.9, p=0.0001). At post-testing, the experimental group showed a trend toward a decreased fear of dogs (F=3.6, p=0.062), that was significant at follow-up testing (F=4.2, p=0.019). For these children who are exposed to daily violence and aggression to people and animals, these modest changes were associated with the threeweek intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)352-359
Number of pages8
JournalAnthrozoos
Volume16
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)
  • Anthropology
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)

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