Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Family Consumer Human Development

Committee Chair(s)

Jay Schvaneveldt


Jay Schvaneveldt


Don C. Carter


Dorothy B. Lewis


Robert Publicover


The perceptions of dogs and cats as held by children were studied in six areas of interest. The subjects were twenty-one males and twenty-one females ranging in age from 3 years 3 months t o 5 years 0 months selected from the Utah State University Nursery School. Responses to six areas of interest: identification, sex characteristics, love and affection, companionship, and therapeutic value, were elicited during interviews using a color picture of a mature German Shepard and mature Siamese cat as visual stimuli. A telephone interview with one parent of the subject was made to assess pet contact of the subject.

Little difference was found between males and females and their perceptions of the animals. Females, however, were found to be more aware of sibling relationships of the animals than were the males, and were, in general, more verbally responsive. Little difference in perception was found between the older three and four year old subjects. A significant difference was found between the age groups in relation to the animals being friends and playmates with the older subjects stating that the animals could be their friends and playmates more often than the younger subjects. Those subjects who were assessed as having high pet contact were found in general to be less responsive than those with low pet contact.

The types of responses given by those subjects with high, medium, or low pet contact, not controlling for sex or age , were found not to differ significantly. However, those with high pet contact i 2 the area of sex characteristics evidenced a lesser degree of knowledge about from where the babies of the animals came.

In general the findings gave support to the conclusions of other authors t hat a dog as a pet may be perceived as a therapeutic device.