Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design


Animal and Nutritional Sciences

Committee Chair

Matthew E. Wilson

Committee Co-Chair

B. Jean Meade

Committee Member

B. Jean Meade

Committee Member

Megan Maxwell

Committee Member

Kennon A. Lattal

Committee Member

Oliver Wirth


Research suggests that many veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) struggle with reintegration (Sayer et al., 2010), but are unlikely to seek help or complete treatment (Schottenbauer et al., 2008). To make matters worse, available treatment options are often time consuming, challenging, and/or associated with negative side effects (Carafano & Hutchinson, 2017). Using animals as a treatment modality for veterans with PTSD is an emerging topic of interest and has shown promise (Owen, et al., 2016; Richie et al., 2016). However, several factors have hindered the advancement of this field. Obstacles include a lack of standard terminology and classification system, a need for empirical research to support the effectiveness of animal assisted interventions, and consideration of individual differences in response to animal assisted interventions. This investigation aims to fill these voids by proposing a novel taxonomy to promote research and development, describing an innovative investigation into whether the presence of a dog impacts veterans’ stress response to a task, and exploring whether the relationship between personality characteristics of service dogs and veterans impacts the success of the team. Results suggest that the demand for service dogs for veterans in the Unites States is growing and currently exceeds the supply. In addition, the inconsistent findings in the literature regarding therapeutic effects of assistance animals may be due to whether the team is compatible. This study found a potential correlation between veteran and service dog assertiveness and the benefits provided by the presence of the dog. Due to methodological concerns, results must be interpreted cautiously. More research in this area is needed, and future recommendations are provided.