Date of Submission


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



Department Chair

Robert A DiTomasso, PhD, ABPP

First Advisor

Katy Tresco, PhD

Second Advisor

Jessica Kendorski, PhD

Third Advisor

Bryan Hendricks, PsyD


This study investigated teachers’ perceptions of a Therapy Dog Elementary School Reading Inspiration Program. Teaching students to read is important to promote safety, aid in communication, and predict future academic success. Students who lack motivation avoid practicing reading. Reading practice helps influence reading fluency and comprehension. Research related to animal-assisted therapy indicates that animals help decrease anxiety and increase motivation for tasks. This research investigates the perceived effect of an animalassisted literacy program, as viewed from a teacher perspective. Through surveyed data respondents indicated a perceived benefit in areas of reading interest, reading skill and reading related behaviors, following the Therapy Dog Program. Respondents noted social-emotional improvements as well, including student’s decreased levels of anxiety and an increase in relaxation when reading aloud, increased mindfulness, an increase in social skills in those who were previously reluctant to speak in class, as well as improved communication skills, and improved student attitudes toward reading.