"Do as I Do” Dog Training Research Project

"Do as I Do” Dog Training Research Project

Children & Youth with Differences Lab

Learn how to participate in our DAID training research program.

We are doing a research study examining the use of the family dog in animal-assisted interventions for children with developmental differences.

We believe that incorporating the family dog in an imitation-based dog-assisted intervention will improve physical activity and social wellbeing for children with developmental differences.

We are specifically evaluating a novel approach (DAID) to fostering a therapeutic partnership between children with developmental differences and their family dog. Currently, many animal-assisted interventions (AAI) are cost prohibitive and/or logistically difficult; we believe that this study will culminate in a readily accessible AAI aimed at increasing activity levels, enhancing social support, and increasing feelings of responsibility and wellbeing within this population.


Dog collage


What is "Do as I Do"?

“Do as I Do” (DAID) is an imitation-based dog training method that is fun for the dog and for the trainer.

DAID uses reinforcement-based techniques to train dogs to copy the behavior of their child owner upon hearing the verbal cue ‘Do it’, similar to teaching a dog the rules behind the game ‘Simon Says’.

Once this rule has been learned, children can demonstrate new actions and use the cue ‘Do it’ to prompt the same action in their dog. For example, the child can demonstrate walking or jumping over a dog agility jump, ask the dog to “do it”, and the dog will do the same thing! Or, the child can teach the dog to manipulate an object by demonstrating the behavior themselves.


Participant Requirements


Children in this study need to be between 10-17 years of age, have a developmental disability of any kind, and be able to follow basic instructions, similar to ‘Simon Says’.


Parents/guardians need to be comfortable filling out surveys in English.


Dogs in our study need to be pets, must be over 4 months of age, of good health, with no history of aggression, and current on vaccinations. There are no size or breed restrictions.

Learn how to participate in our DAID training program.

This project is the joint effort of the Children and Youth with Disabilities Lab and the Human-Animal interaction Lab.

Oregon State University Institutional Review Board (Human Subjects) Protocol #: IRB-2020-0816
Oregon State University Animal Care and Use Protocol #: IACUC-2022-0313
National Institutes of Health (NIH) Grant #: RO1HD101098
Title: “The evaluation of a multi-site novel imitation-based animal assisted intervention for children with developmental disabilities and their family dog”.


Representative publication

Tepfer, A.*, Ross, S.*, MacDonald, M., Udell, M., Ruaux, C., & Baltzer, W. (2017). Family dog-assisted adapted physical activity: A case study. Animals.7(35) [Epub ahead of print]: Doi: 10.3390/ani7050035




For more information please contact:


Saethra Darling, PhD

Program Manager
Saethra Darling, PhD
[email protected]
(541) 737-8117