What is it about?

Assistance dogs (also referred to as service dogs in the US) are trained to assist individuals with wide variety of disabilities. However, beyond the tasks they are trained to do, assistance dogs can also benefit many other areas of life such as social functioning, quality of life, and psychological wellbeing. Our objective was to identify, summarize, and evaluate studies quantifying the psychosocial effects of assistance dogs for individuals with physical disabilities.

Featured Image

Why is it important?

Research has indicated that beyond the physical or tangible benefits that an assistance dog is trained to provide (e.g. route finding, retrieving dropped items, alerting to a seizure), an assistance dog’s companionship, emotional and social support, and social facilitation effects in public may be particularly important to improving the quality of life of individuals with disabilities.


We're starting to learn more about how pet dogs and therapy dogs may decrease our stress, increase our mood, and improve our wellbeing. However, there has been relatively less research on how assistance dogs may benefit the lives of their handlers beyond the tasks they are trained to do. This review helps summarize what we know so far about the potential psychosocial benefits of assistance dog-handler partnerships.

Kerri Rodriguez
Colorado State University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: The effects of assistance dogs on psychosocial health and wellbeing: A systematic literature review, PLoS ONE, December 2020, PLOS,
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0243302.
You can read the full text:

Open access logo



The following have contributed to this page