Sechi, Sara (2012) Sperimentazione di un nuovo training per cani co-terapeuti e per supporto disabili secondo un approccio neuropsicologico. Doctoral Thesis.
The aim of this work was to evaluate the neuro-psychological method based on the Cognitive Behavioural Method modified, in the training of assistance and co-therapist dogs working in Animal-Assisted Interventions (AAI). This approach is based on the relationship between dog and handler and dog’s training is oriented to increase its experiences, its adaptability and its cognitive skills whereas classic dog handling forecasts creation and management of automatisms, with the dog kept always under control. Twenty-tree dogs of different breeds were involved in this study. The esteemed time to train a dog for AAI is resulted to be 1 year but the complete behavioural development is reached around the 2 years. The dogs learned almost 50 words, they were able to answer simple and complex requests, to generalize starting from a noun-object association and/or from a given action. During both everyday’s life and AAI, they showed a spontaneous collaborative attitude. A relevant result was that the dogs participated to 1 to 15 AAI session a week, lasting 30 minutes each, never showing any behavioural sign related to stress. An important feature of the training was the relationship between dog and handler, built through correct communication and attention to the cognitive characteristics of the dogs, as the constitution of the dog-handler couple is one of the prerequisites to participate to AAI. This method permits to train dogs respecting their ethological and behavioural characteristics.
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