Honors Senior Theses/Projects

Date of Award

Spring 2020

Exit Requirement

Undergraduate Honors Thesis/Project

Department

Honors Program

Faculty Advisor

Deborah Brannan

Honors Program Director

Dr. Gavin Keulks

Abstract

Compared to other animals, dogs appear to have the most excellent ability to understand humans’ nonverbal communication and social cues (Lucidi, Bernabo, Panunz, Villa, & Mattiolo, 2005). Service dogs provide a variety of different services and emotional support to their handlers. Additionally, specific breeds of service dogs must have distinct qualities, be particular sizes, and have specific temperaments to do their jobs adequately. Service dogs are defined in the ADA as any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. To most of the population, basic knowledge about service dogs is not well known, and few researchers have focused on service dogs regarding the knowledge individuals have and the specific types of service dogs used by people with disabilities. Without this basic knowledge, people are unsure of the proper ways to interact with service dogs. My goal was to survey a sample of the population to examine their prior knowledge about service dogs, and then ask them to rate three different breeds of dogs (Yorkshire Terrier, Golden Retriever, and Pitbull) on their ability to be a service dog. With the hope to bridge the gap between the increasing number of service dogs being used and the knowledge that comes along with interactions between individuals with and without service dogs. There were significant differences between each dog breeds.

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