College of Arts & Sciences

Date of Award

Summer 7-2007

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Gary W. McCullough, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

James Olson, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Karen S. Smith, Ph.D.


This study investigated the effect of therapy dogs on physiological and psychological measures of anxiety before and after a forensic interview in children who may have been sexually abused. A convenience sample consisted of 37 children ages 6 to 12 years who presented at a children’s advocacy center for sexual abuse forensic interviews. Twenty children had a therapy dog present during their time at the Center and 17 did not. Researchers measured systolic blood pressure (SBP) and heart rate (HR) using a Zelwa WS-TS Touch Screen Wrist Blood Pressure Monitor. State- anxiety was assessed using the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory for Children. All measurements were taken before and after participation in a forensic interview. Results indicate no significant differences in state-anxiety and physiological arousal in children who had the dog present in the waiting room compared to the children in the dog absent condition.