AHF Pet Partner team Jan and Jonah

During the past year, Jan Haderlie and Jonah, her 5-year-old Shetland Sheepdog, have been valuable partipants in Project Positive Assertive Cooperative Kids (P.A.C.K.) at the University of California -Irvine.  P.A.C.K.  is a federally funded, non-medication research study to examine whether adding therapy dogs in a 12-week cognitive-behavioral group therapy intervention is more effective than traditional cognitive-behavioral group therapy without therapy dogs in improving self-esteem, self-regulation and pro-social behaviors in 7- to 9-year-old children who have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.

The P.A.C.K. children have multiple opportunities to bond with Jan and Jonah during their twice-weekly sessions. At each session, children rotate among three stations. The children create arts and crafts projects at Jan and Jonah’s station. The children also have the opportunity to earn the privilege of having one-on-one time with Jan and Jonah during group therapy when they demonstrate on-task behaviors, such as attending to the speaker and making contributions during discussions.

During reading time, the children pair up and read dog stories to each other and to Jonah. Jonah’s impeccable eye contact with the pages of the story amazes the children. One of the children’s favorite P.A.C.K. activities is giving basic commands to their four-legged friends, which demonstrates self-regulation and assertiveness by having a confident voice and a calm body. During this activity, they are also practicing pro-social behaviors by complimenting the dogs for following directions.

P.A.C.K. is extremely grateful to Jan, Jonah and the other Pet Partners teams participating in the project. For more information on the study, visit www.cdc.uci.edu.

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