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Beyond the Benefits of Assistance Dogs: Exploring Challenges Experienced by First-Time Handlers

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posted on 30.03.2022, 23:02 by Jennifer Gravrok, Daniell BendrupsDaniell Bendrups, Tiffani HowellTiffani Howell, Pauleen BennettPauleen Bennett
The purpose of this study was to explore first time handlers’ experiences when working with an assistance dog (AD). Interviewees included seven first time AD handlers and 14 other individuals close to these handlers, including family members, carers and AD instructors. Semi-structured interviews were conducted six months and one year after each handler received their AD. Interview questions were informed by the Thriving Through Relationships theory of social support and previous interviews with the participants. Inductive content analysis corroborated previous findings regarding the benefits that ADs provide. In addition, four factors were revealed to substantially influence the challenges handlers experienced when learning to utilize their dog. These included the handlers’ medical conditions, cognitive ability and social environment, and dog-related factors. Organizations would benefit from considering these factors in their operational processes.

Funding

This research was supported by a La Trobe University Full Fee Research Scholarship.

History

Publication Date

29/04/2019

Journal

Animals

Volume

9

Issue

5

Article Number

203

Pagination

12p.

Publisher

MDPI

ISSN

2076-2615

Rights Statement

© 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

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