Journal of Counseling and Psychology


When a dog is included in treatment to meet an individual’s therapeutic goal it is known as Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT). Although AAT has increased in popularity, limited research exists regarding its efficacy. According to the diffusion of innovation theory an innovation must be properly communicated to all appropriate channels before it may be adopted into practice. Little is known about how AAT is understood and perceived among healthcare professional and public populations in Canada. In the present study, health care professionals and the general public in Canada were surveyed. Attitude toward dogs, openness to experience, agreeableness, and subjective distress were investigated. Results suggest that both professional and public populations have limited knowledge of AAT but are interested in learning more about the intervention. Although attitude toward dogs appears to be positively associated with attitude toward AAT, the impact of openness to experience, agreeableness, and subjective distress is limited.