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Title: Service Dog Tales: A Tri-fold Study Investigating Diabetic Alert Dog Accuracy, the Use of Animal-Assisted Therapy to Address Executive Functioning Skills, and the Function of Calming Signals in Service Dog Puppies
Authors: Olson, Camden
Advisors: Riehl, Christina
Department: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Certificate Program: Program in Cognitive Science
Class Year: 2019
Abstract: This thesis explores three distinct studies with a common theme of addressing service dogs. The first study investigates diabetic alert dog accuracy and the effect of environment and time of day. A diabetic alert dog (DAD) is a service dog trained to alert a Type 1 diabetic to out of range blood glucose episodes. While DAD accuracy has been debated, this study supports the use of DADs as effective tools for diabetes management. DADs were found to alert to 79% of hypoglycemic episodes when false alerts were included, and 88% when false alerts were not included. DAD accuracy rates improved during community outings but decreased in the car and at night, suggesting a need for further training. The second study examines the efficacy of an after-school program to improve executive functioning skills (EF) in middle school students by teaching students how to train service dogs. The effect of dogs on EF and on middle school students has previously not been well addressed. Students showed improvements in EF based on self-report forms, but parent evaluation of students did not show a change. This difference suggests that students may have increased confidence in themselves but not tangible improvements in EF. The third study explores the functions of calming signals, particularly lip licking, in future service dogs. Calming signals were introduced by dog trainer Turid Rugaas, who claimed calming signals were used for communicative purposes, for diffusing tension, and for destressing one’s self. Existing research supports the first two functions, but the third function does not have definitive evidence. Future service dog puppies completed three temperament tasks and were analyzed for behavior and calming signals. This study supported the use of lip licking for communication purposes, but was inconclusive regarding the use of lip licking for self-calming.
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, 1992-2023

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