Dogs Help Improve Moods Among Teens in Treatment

Monday 3rd June 2013 @ 10:26 PM. (NZST)

Dogs Help Improve Moods Among Teens in Treatment

Monday 3rd June 2013 @ 10:26 PM. (NZST)

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June 3, 2013 — Lindsay Ellsworth is prescribing a new, mood-boosting therapy for teenagers in drug and alcohol treatment: shelter dogs.

On Friday afternoons, about four dogs from the Spokane Humane Society take a field trip to Excelsior Youth Center as a group of teenage boys eagerly await their arrival. Ellsworth, a doctoral candidate in animal sciences at Washington State University, organizes the meet-ups where participants can help brush, feed and play with the dogs.

"We found one of the most robust effects of interacting with the dogs was increased joviality," she said. "Some of the words the boys used to describe their moods after working with the dogs were 'excited,' 'energetic' 'and happy.'"

The relationship between dogs and humans is prehistoric, but Ellsworth's study is the first of its kind to demonstrate how dog-interaction activities improve mood among teenagers living in residential treatment centers.

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