Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Jennifer Ma

Reader 2

Theodore Bartholomew


Research on the psychological impact of hospitalization on children and their families indicates that a hospital stay can lead to stress and fear in pediatric patients. However, positive aspects may be introduced into the lives of hospitalized children through interactions with therapy dogs that can improve their psychological well-being. The focus of this proposed study is to investigate the effect of dog therapy on happiness and anxiety levels in pediatric inpatients. Two hundred children between 6 and 17 years old who are hospitalized at a children’s hospital will either interact with a therapy dog or a dog plush animal across multiple sessions and complete established scales measuring anxiety and happiness. Salivary cortisol and oxytocin tests will also be collected from participants as a way of physiologically measuring anxiety and happiness. It is expected that anxiety levels will significantly decrease after the first session in children who interact with a therapy dog but not in those who interact with a plush animal. It is also predicted that happiness levels will significantly increase following the first session in children who interact with a therapy dog but not in those who do not interact with a dog. Assessing the impact of dog therapy on the well-being of hospitalized children may aid society in determining if this form of treatment can be successfully implemented across hospitals around the world and used in people of all ages, not just children.