Effects of a Dog-training Intervention on At-risk Youth

Shlomit Lahav, Orly Sarid, Halit Kantor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


In the past few decades, interventions that involve animals have gained support among therapists, as they encourage verbal and non-verbal expressions of emotions. Our aim was to examine the impact of a dog-training intervention on the empathic skills of at-risk youth, compared with an intervention using empowerment groups. We hypothesized that participants in the dog-training group would report improved empathic abilities, compared with those in the comparison group. A prospective study was conducted, with a final sample of 55 at-risk youth: 30 in the dog-training group and 25 in the empowerment-based group (n = 25). Empathic skills were measured using the Interpersonal Reactivity Index, which consists of four subscales: fantasy abilities, perspective taking, empathic concern, and personal distress. We found a significant improvement in the empathic concern subscale only among participants in the dog-training group (F(1,53) = 16.6, p < 0.01). This is discussed, along with limitations of the research and possible avenues for future research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)533-540
Number of pages8
Issue number4
StatePublished - 4 Jul 2019


  • at-risk youth
  • dog-training
  • empathy
  • human–animal interaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Anthropology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Veterinary (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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