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The Role Dogs Play in Childhood Development

The benefits of having furry early childhood educators.

An Ancient Partnership

Dogs and humans share an ancient bond. Domesticated canines have helped us with hunting, herding, and sounding the alarm against predators and other dangers. And, dogs provide us with a real sense of comfort and emotional support. Research shows that petting a dog stimulates release of oxytocin, a hormone that increases feelings of well-being and affection in both humans and dogs. Petting a dog can lower a person's blood pressure and levels of stress hormones and even help regulate breathing.

Furry Counselors

There's a reason dogs are often used as therapy animals: they do a great job. Dogs are social creatures and they provide unconditional affection—even to people they don't know. Most dogs are xenophilic, that is, they love strangers.

The Role Dogs Play in Childhood Development

When you think of therapy, you might think of a human counselor first. After all, people do benefit from talking with a professional therapist. Sometimes, though, especially with children, words aren't the best way to begin. This is where our furry friends can help.

Furry Early Childhood Educators

Dr. Michelle Roberts-Schneider, a Walden PhD in Education graduate, knew from her own experience running a home-based child care center that dogs can play a valuable role in early childhood education. But, research on the role of therapy dogs and early childhood development in classroom settings is scant. That's what inspired Dr. Roberts-Schneider to write her dissertation How Educators Use Dogs to Support Children’s Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Development. According to her research on therapy dogs and teaching strategy, therapy dogs are an innovative teaching tool; support children's social, emotional, and behavioral development; and enhance children's experiences.

Walden offers two ways to pursue your early childhood studies degree. With Tempo Learning® by Walden, you have the option to choose your learning experience based on your learning style and preferences. Whether you want to study alongside classmates in a traditional course-based program or earn your degree at your pace, there’s an option for you to achieve your dreams.

Explore Walden University's accredited online early childhood education degree programs for graduates and undergraduates. Get the help you need to continue your education and advance your career goals. Earn your degree in a convenient online format that fits your busy life.

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,