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General overview

Mediation by the animal is a relationship activity. The dog makes it possible to establish a triadic relationship between the child, the dog and the caregiver, while being a fun, very engaging and motivating experience for the child.  

Mediation by the animal helps the child in his development: sensory, affective, self-awareness, coordination, attention, concentration, memory, communication, emotional management, self-confidence and self-esteem, etc.

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Main objectives of the method

Many activities make it possible to implement objectives defined upstream. The child will develop an emotional bond with the animal while respecting a framework and instructions. 


The overall benefits are: sensory stimulation, coordination and fine motor skills, self-awareness, development of attention, concentration and communication (being understood, learning to express feelings...), increased self-esteem, better management of impulsivity and emotions... 

Specificities of the method

The animal acts as a mirror of the child's behaviour, unlike the adult who adapts because of the knowledge of the child's disorder, which allows a true self-awareness. Indeed, the dog tries to connect, it is spontaneous and does not judge, and it encourages to reproduce, to imitate.

For example, if the child wants to come into contact with the dog in an aggressive or brutal way, the dog will not be pleasant, while as soon as he is calmer and softer, the dog will come to him.

Thanks to the mediation of the intervener, the child will be all the more aware of this cause-and-effect relationship. There is rapid awareness and progress in behavioural, emotional and language skills.

Example of types of activities: knowledge of the dog, communication with the dog, playful exchanges, tactile, material handling, care, guidance, leading, encouraging the dog, obstacle course, games, and putting words on observations and feelings, etc.

Who is this method for ?

Depending on the child's needs, this method makes it possible to work on the sensory motor, social skills, communication, cognition, in particular for children with motor, cognitive or learning disabilities.  


For children with behavioural disorders or autistic disorders, working with the mediating dog will help them to become aware of their behaviour. Thus the child adapts his behaviour to obtain the response of the dog who is waiting for him, he develops a better understanding of his behaviour, an ability to adapt it.

For children with motor disorders, working with the dog will act as a powerful motivation to use their bodies and to surpass themselves physically. 

What parents say about it

"When I guided Ishka, it was good to see that she was following my instructions. I felt like I was doing her a lot of good by massaging her. When I massaged her, she was relaxed. I was disappointed and discouraged in the "touch" exercise because it was difficult in terms of timing. But I was able to overcome this difficulty and succeed in the exercise without error. And later on, I'd like to work in animal welfare." 


"I was happy to see Ishka. I enjoyed hugging and massaging in Ishka. I loved everything." 


"I saw how the dog can be a powerful vector for joyful therapy" (a parent)

Scientific references

"Children who have experienced fear, anxiety and difficulties due to their disability in daily life have learned to cope with their fears and anxieties and to set goals and plans to achieve their goals during therapy. Children have improved their ability to use their bodies according to their abilities. As a result, they have improved their ability to develop empathy between themselves and a therapy dog, to receive and present help, and to improve their communication skills. The results of this study revealed that dog-assisted therapies and activities can provide a supportive method for routine treatment in the rehabilitation of children with cerebral palsy and physical and mental disabilities. »

"The individual and social benefits obtained through dog-assisted therapy can contribute to the prevention, improvement and development of children with various disabilities. Dog-assisted therapy can be developed and used as a veterinary public health support tool to assist in the rehabilitation of children with disabilities. »

Limitations: study limited to interviews and observations of only 10 cases, no control group, no research documents to compare results with other research, limited to the physiotherapy centre (therefore not reflecting daily life)

Source: Dog-Assisted Therapies and Activities in Rehabilitation of Children with Cerebral Palsy and Physical and Mental Disabilities

Any remarks or comments ?

This work is based on a collaborative approach to sharing research and family experience.

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