This study aimed to examine the role of pet dogs in families of children with autism. Sixty-seven percent of families owned dogs and 94% reported that their children were bonded to their dogs. Parents described previous experience with dogs and beliefs in their benefits as influential in their dog ownership decision-making process. Children living with dogs interacted with them in play and/or sharing personal space. Sensory issues of the children impacted their interaction with dogs inside and outside the home. Time and cost of care were identified burdens of dog ownership. Benefits were the opportunity to learn responsibility and companionship.
Keywords: Autism; Children; Dogs; Human–animal interaction; Pets.
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