Fostering and suPAWting engagement in meaningful activity and social connection: Dogs as a conduit to community inclusion for people with cognitive disabilities

Project: Research

Project Details

Project Description

This study will build a new industry partnership for Monash University and RAIL, testing an innovative animal intervention to impact social inclusion of people with cognitive disabilities. Building on pilot work (Bould et al, 2018), ‘Dog Buddies’ – an innovative animal-assisted social integration program for people with disability – will be implemented and evaluated.
Research Question: Does walking with a dog foster social interaction for people with cognitive disability?
Methodology: Single-case experimental design will be used to rigorously measure the animal intervention program. Each participant is their own control, and change will be measured from baseline period (five community meetings with a handler but no dog) to intervention period (five meetings minimum, with a handler and a dog). Target behaviours include frequency and nature of encounters between the person with disability and community members.
Significance: This study will add to the limited evidence regarding effective interventions to support social inclusion of people with cognitive disabilities. Evidence regarding frequency and significance of convivial encounters (positive interactions) in building community connection will be gathered, with potential to grow social inclusion of a frequently excluded population. If successful, Dog Buddies can be scaled nationally and with varied populations (e.g. those ageing or with physical disability).
Short titleTrial of Dog Buddies Program
Effective start/end date4/11/1928/02/21


  • Monash University – Internal School Contribution: A$14,685.00
  • Melba Support Services: A$10,000.00