Undergraduate Honors Thesis Projects

Date of Award

Spring 2023

Document Type

Honors Paper

Degree Name





Dr. Laurie-Rose

First Committee Member

Dr. Acker

Second Committee Member

Dr. Mills


Therapy Dogs, Dogs, Mood, Mindfulness, Affect

Subject Categories

Animal Studies | Cognitive Psychology | Higher Education | Other Psychology | Psychology | Social and Behavioral Sciences


This research explores the relationships between therapy dog exposure, mood, and mindfulness. Using a randomized control design, participants (N = 99) participants were assigned to either the experimental (therapy dogs, N = 54) or control condition (video of dogs, N = 45). We hypothesized that individuals participating with the therapy dogs will experience a decrease in negative emotions and an increase in positive emotions during the first posttest. Additionally, those exposed to therapy dogs will score higher on the State Mindfulness Scale than those watching videos. More, individuals scoring higher on the Trait Mindfulness scale and the Connectedness to Nature scale will experience a greater decrease in negative emotions and increase in positive emotions in the dog condition compared to the video condition. Using two-posttests, we also sought to investigate the longevity of therapy dogs’ effects. We found both conditions experienced a decrease in negative emotion, with the dog group being more significant. There was a positive correlation between state mindfulness and positive affect reported on the posttest in the dog group. The video group had a harsher decline in positive affect compared to participants in the dog group, and a positive correlation between nature connectedness and state mindfulness. In both conditions, higher negative affect on the pretest had a negative correlation with trait mindfulness. Additional analyses indicated no effects observed between the pretest and posttest one were observed on the second posttest, 24 hours later. We discuss the significance of these findings and how they could contribute to future literature concerning benefits of human-canine interaction and mindfulness.

Licensing Permission

Copyright, all rights reserved. Fair Use

Acknowledgement 1


Acknowledgement 2


Available for download on Friday, April 16, 2027