This study was conducted to determine the effect of the presence and absence of a dog on the frequency and types of social interactions among nursing home residents during a socialization group. Point sampling was used to evaluate the behaviors of 36 male nursing home residents at a Veterans Administration Medical Center under two conditions, Dog Present and Dog Absent. A significant difference in verbal interactions among residents occurred with the dog present, F(1,69) = 4.92, p < .05. These findings are consistent with existing literature, thus providing further evidence of the value of Animal Assisted Therapy programs as an effective medium for increasing socialization among residents in long-term care facilities. Because an increase in social interactions can improve the social climate of an institution and occupational therapists frequently incorporate group process into their treatment, the therapeutic use of animals can become a valuable adjunct to reaching treatment goals.

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