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Canine-Assisted Therapy for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: a Systematic Review


 Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) has been suggested to increase prosocial behavior in children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Out of all the animals used in AAT, dogs have been found to be the most utilized and accessible. This systematic review examines the current state of literature on canine-assisted therapy (CAT) for children with ASD based on peer-reviewed articles. Five studies met inclusion and exclusion criteria. All articles found that presence of a therapy dog was correlated with increased frequency and duration of social behavior both throughout treatment and, in the case of one study, at follow-up. However, methodological limitations such as small sample sizes and sub-optimal analytic procedures suggest that existing studies might not accurately reflect the true nature of the relationship between CAT and social behavior. Therefore, further exploration of this area of research using methodologically strong studies is warranted and necessary. Recommendations for future research are included.

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Correspondence to Kristin K. Hardy.

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Hardy, K.K., Weston, R.N. Canine-Assisted Therapy for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: a Systematic Review. Rev J Autism Dev Disord 7, 197–204 (2020).

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