FAU Awarded Grant to Examine Role of Pet Dogs on Military Adolescents

Teens, Adolescents, Dog, Pet Dog, Military

Researchers will investigate the role of pet dogs in the lives of military adolescents between the ages of 12 to 18.

By gisele galoustian | 4/24/2024

Florida Atlantic University Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing’s Canines Providing Assistance to Wounded Warriors (C-P.A.W.W.) has received a new grant from the Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) for research that investigates the contribution of pet dog ownership to resilience and well-being in adolescent children of military families.

The grant was awarded to a team of researchers led by Laurie Martinez, Ph.D., an assistant professor, FAU College of Nursing; and co-led by Cheryl A. Krause-Parello, Ph.D., associate vice president for research, FAU Division of Research and a research professor in the College of Nursing.    

This important study will provide insight into how pet dogs support well-being and resilience in adolescents while a parent or guardian is in the National Guard, Reserve, is a veteran or on active duty. Adolescents in military families face ubiquitous teen stressors and unique military challenges such as parental deployment and frequent relocations. Dog ownership is suggested as a contextual resource of strength to counter the effects of adolescent military-specific stressors and promote positive outcomes.

“With approximately 66 percent of households in the United States owning a pet, family military pet dogs are an understudied innovative resource that may mitigate military-connected adolescent stress and nurture resilience and well-being,” said Martinez, principal investigator of the study. “Exploring how pet dogs can serve as conduits to better mental health outcomes opens new pathways for daily health promotion.”

This longitudinal, observational pilot study will conduct scientifically validated surveys to investigate the role of pet dogs in the lives of military adolescents between the ages of 12 to 18. Researchers expect to find higher levels of resilience, improved well-being, reduced depression, and lower perceived stress in dog-owning adolescents compared to military adolescents who do not own a pet dog.

“We hope that this research will inform policies and programs aimed at improving health for children in military families,” said Steven Feldman, president, HABRI.