The impact of different dog-related stimuli on engagement of persons with dementia

Marcia S. Marx, Jiska Cohen-Mansfield, Natalie G. Regier, Maha Dakheel-Ali, Ashok Srihari, Khin Thein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


Objective: To provide further empirical evaluation of the effectiveness of animal-assisted therapy in nursing home residents with dementia. Methods: Participants were 56 residents of 2 suburban Maryland nursing homes and had a diagnosis. Activities of daily living performance was assessed via the minimum data set and cognitive functioning assessed using the Mini-Mental State Examination. Engagement with dog-related stimuli was systematically assessed via the observational measurement of engagement. Results: Mean engagement duration was significantly lower for the small dog. Highest mean engagement duration was found for the puppy video, followed by the real dog and lowest was for the dog-coloring activity. Positive attitudes were found toward the real dogs, robotic dog, the puppy video, and the plush dog. No significant differences were found in engagement duration among our dog-related stimuli. Conclusions: Nursing homes should consider animal-assisted therapy and dog-related stimuli, as they successfully engage residents with dementia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-45
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Alzheimer's Disease and other Dementias
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2010


  • Animal-assisted therapy
  • Dementia
  • Dog
  • Nursing home residents


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