New Research Shows Dogs Improve Social Skills for Children with Autism

Green Chimneys - dog in social skills training

The Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) recently announced the publication of a study that explored the effectiveness of an animal-assisted social skills intervention for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

The research was conducted by Green Chimneys, a therapeutic school and treatment center for children facing social, emotional and behavioral challenges.

Dr. Joanna Becker, the study’s principal investigator, along with co-PIs Dr. Erica Rogers and Dr. Bethany Burrows, analyzed 31 Green Chimneys students ages 8-14 diagnosed with ASD and compared social and emotional functioning before and after the intervention. Students either participated in an animal-assisted social skills group or in a traditional social skills training group without an animal present.Not only do dogs appear to have a positive effect on children_s emotional states, but they can also be motivating factors that encourage social interaction and involvement

Findings showed that the inclusion of dogs in social skills training was more effective than traditional programs.

Specifically, participants who received the animal-assisted social skills intervention exhibited fewer social skills deficits overall, fewer restricted and repetitive behaviors, and more typical social communication following the intervention. The study also found that participants who received the animal-assisted social skills intervention exhibited a greater level of change in social skills, perspective taking, theory of mind, and decreased feelings of isolation and depression.

For more information and to read about the innovative research projects HABRI has funded, visit their website. To learn more about Green Chimneys, visit their website here.

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APPA President and CEO Bob Vetere Receives Pet Age’s ICON Award

 icon-logoThe team at American Pet Products Association (APPA) is proud to announce our President and CEO Bob Vetere is a 2016 recipient of Pet Age’s ICON Award. The award honors industry leaders who have shown a long-term commitment to the success of the pet industry based on experience, integrity and leadership.

Bob regularly serves as an industry spokesperson and has been featured in national media outlets including ABC’s World News tonight, CNBC, USA Today and the Wall Street Journal. Since joining us here at APPA in 2002 he has grown membership from 668 to 1,200 members. In his role he has established the Pet Leadership Council (PLC), a council comprised of pet industry leaders that have united to advance the industry. He also established the Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI), an organization that gathers and funds research on the benefits of pet ownership on human health.

bobvetere2015Not only has he formed groups to advance the industry, he was instrumental in combining what used to be known as the APPMA Show and the Pet Industry Distributors Association’s (PIDA) PETS Show and formed what is now the pet industry’s largest annual trade show, Global Pet Expo. Additionally, Bob authored a book entitled From Wags to Riches: How Dogs Teach Us to Succeed in Business & Life and serves on the Board of Directors for Green Chimneys, an organization providing animal-assisted therapy for children with special needs.

So, from everyone at APPA… Congratulations, Bob! You are more than deserving of this fantastic award.

Autistic Students Benefit from Interaction with Classroom Pets

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It doesn’t take long for classroom pets to become classroom friends for young students—especially those with autism. Multiple studies have shown that students with behavioral and social issues are positively impacted by interaction with a classroom pet—and teachers agree:

“We have seen a great turnaround in classroom behavior, now that we have our classroom pet, Buddy Boudreaux (guinea pig).  I work with students on the autism spectrum in grades 5-6. We have many moments of frustration and sensory overload that often lead to meltdowns within our classroom setting. Buddy has helped so many of our students feel better when they get to just sit and read to him. They look forward to earning reward time to hold him, interact with him, and help with some of his pet responsibilities (such as feeding, filling water bottle, etc.).”

Jennifer Porche
special education teacher
Florence, AL

“I have a couple of Autistic students and [Charlie the Bearded Dragon] often sits with them and helps them on days when things are out of sorts. It is amazing! The biggest success story for Charlie is that we have a student in an emotional/behavioral class that has a really hard time fitting in. He gets very angry at times, and when the teachers weren’t able to calm him down with the usual strategies, we found [him] just holding and talking to Charlie for a few minutes—works every time.  He simply comes to my room, and we take Charlie out, and he holds, rubs, and feeds him by hand, and that does it. It’s like a small miracle.”

Erica Hornick
4th grade teacher
Toccoa, GA

Jennifer and Erica aren’t the only teachers who have benefitted from the use of a classroom pet. Through the Pets in the Classroom grant program, over three million children in over 70,000 classrooms throughout the US and Canada have gotten to experience pet care through classroom pets. The American Pet Products Association supports the work of Pets in the Classroom. To find out more, or to apply for a grant to bring a pet into your classroom, visit http://www.petsintheclassroom.org.

Introducing the NEW Pets Forever® Stamps

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On Tuesday, August 2nd, Bob Vetere spoke at the Pets Forever® First-Day-of-Issue event hosted by Superzoo at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas. On behalf of the Pet Leadership Council, Bob shared remarks on responsible pet ownership while also joining in the excitement of the debut of the new pet-themed stamp!

PETS SHEETPostage stamps have highlighted dogs and cats in the past with the previously released series, Adopt a Shelter Pet promoted by Ellen DeGeneres in 2009. However, th
is is especially exciting for the pet industry because in addition to dogs and cats, these new Pets Forever stamps feature all kinds of pets, from iguanas and hermit crabs, to snakes and horses! Animal owners everywhere can share their love for their favorite companions with these new colorful postage stamps! Break out the stationary, find a new pen pal and support the new designs by purchasing your booklet online or at a USPS location near you!

Human Health Benefits of Pets at Work

Before leaving the house for work in the morning, most people make sure they have everything they need like a laptop, cell phone, keys, but this week you might want to make sure you grab the leash too.

That’s right! Friday, June 24th is Take Your Dog to Work Day® and companies across the country will have furry companions delivering snuggles, smiles and major cuteness. What’s more is that their soft snuggles and sweet kisses have added benefits behind the scenes.

Scientific research shows bringing companion animals to the office can improve employee health and reduce stress. Studies have also indicated that bringing dogs to the office helps motivate, engage and boost employee satisfaction and retention.

If you’d like to have your employer consider allowing pets at work, Pet Sitters International prepared a toolkit to help you persuade your boss to participate in Take Your Dog to Work Day®.

The American Pet Products Association encourages supporters to obtain additional information and education about the benefits of pets in the workplace, and we hope to see furry faces in more offices across the country each year.

If your company allows pets in the office, share photos with us on our Facebook page, and while you’re at it, check out our everyday office pets.

10 Reasons to Attend Global Pet Expo

The Greatest Show On Earth is just four short months away. If you are still on the fence about attending, here are 10 reasons why you should:

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  1. See more than 3,000 new products and find the ones you need to grow your business
  2. Work with suppliers to maximize value and increase sales
  3. Cash in on show specials and discounts only available at Global Pet Expo
  4. Find new suppliers and products to expand your merchandise mix
  5. Learn how to optimize product display and selections
  6. Discover new strategies to build brand and customer loyalty
  7. Improve product knowledge to enhance your relationship with customers
  8. Explore new ways to connect with your community and boost store traffic
  9. Discover how retailers reach consumers across multiple shopping channels
  10. Understand emerging trends that will help you thrive in 2016 and beyond

We should also remind you that the pet industry’s largest annual trade show is the size of 13 football fields. So, jump that fence. All trails lead to Global Pet Expo in 2016 and you don’t want to miss it!

For more information about Global Pet Expo visit www.globalpetexpo.org.