Outstanding Benefits of Therapy Dogs: Therapy dogs help improve your mental health by providing emotional support. By training these dogs, you can support yourself and others. Mostly, therapy dogs live in the owner’s home, but they visit various places such as nursing homes, hospitals, schools, colleges, hospice homes, and more. They are friendly, gentle and accept strangers adoring and petting them. These dogs are trained to remain calm even when kids tugging their fur.
People use these dogs to get animal-assisted therapy, which is, in essence, refers to various services using animals like dogs and cats to help people’s mental health conditions. These animals provide them comfort and, with that, alert their nearest one if the patient is in danger.
Medically, it is called alternative therapy. The animal therapy’s type can vary depending on the patient’s condition. The therapy is built on a concept, which is the human-animal bond. It determines people’s aspiration to interrelate with animals. By interacting, they can develop a bond, which produces a calming state in the person who interacts with the animal. In short, the therapy dog’s goal is to alleviate people to cope with symptoms of various health conditions.
These dogs can help in several ways, such as:
- Eliminating boredom
- Increasing physical activities through walks and play
- Decreasing loneliness
- Offering companionship
- Improving mood
The positive interactions with a therapy dog help people in many ways; let’s find out how it works:
Dog therapy works differently and has several goals, and it entirely depends on the patient’s condition. Dog therapy involves the dog trainer, who needs to bring the dog to each therapy session. The trainers need to work following the doctor’s guide to help the patient achieve the therapy goals. These trainers get their training from either organization or by themselves. Many therapy dog handlers work as volunteers.
Before getting into the profession, these trainers need to go through various certifications. They must pass the instructional course on interacting with the patient and performing various types of therapies. Alongside them, their dogs also have to pass certain checks. These dogs need to undergo temperament testing to ensure that they behave correctly with both the trainer and the patient. All these testing and certifications ensure the safety and professionalism of the trainer.
Difference between the therapy dogs and service dogs
Some people believe that service dogs and therapy dogs are the same, which isn’t entirely true. In terms of works, they are different from each other. Service dogs perform specific tasks, including helping the owners cope with disabilities.
On the contrary, therapy dogs support a patient’s mental health condition. These dogs offer comfort, and they support a person’s mental health. With their unconditional love and demeanors, they provide therapeutic health benefits to mentally challenged people. Unlike service dogs, anyone can pet the therapy dog.
How therapy dogs help develop mental health
With the therapy dog’s help, people can improve some mental challenges and psychiatric disorders. People have a wide variety of mental issues like depression, autism, bipolar disorder, Alzheimer’s disease, etc. They can be benefited from their interrelation with therapy dogs.
Apart from mental health conditions, people can develop physical health conditions, as well. Sometimes, emotional challenges can cause physical health problems, and therapy dogs can help recover from those problems.
One study shows that people who undergo challenging surgery have developed their physical health by interacting with therapy dogs. They can successfully achieve that because such interactions boost oxytocin hormone and reduce cortisol hormone, known as the stress hormone.
Which dog breed is appropriate to train to become therapy dogs?
You can train any friendly dog breed. Most trainers use larger breeds such as Labradors, Saint Bernards, Golden Retrievers as therapy dogs. Small dog breeds are also used as therapy dogs, and they are ideal for patients sharing a small space.
The dog’s good behavior may differ from breed to breed, and it mostly depends on how the dog is raised and trained.
Bonding with the therapy dog
Human and therapy dog bonding can impact people and animal lives in positive ways. According to research playing with animals can reduce mental stress and increase trust in humans.
Benefits of therapy dogs
Interacting with therapy dogs provides people with lots of health benefits. It teaches them empathy and helps develop interpersonal and social skills. After interrelating with therapy dogs, people find trustfulness. Mentally disabled people can pick up social cues related to human relationships. Gradually, they eliminate unwanted behaviors start gaining confidence to engage with new people. With the therapy dog’s help, they can reduce depression and start enjoying life.
Benefits of therapy dogs at school
A study shows that kids working with therapy dogs can motivate themselves for learning, which results in improved outcomes. These dogs help children with literacy development. They support kids with social and emotional needs. Alongside that, therapy dogs provide a wide range of benefits, including:
They help kids attend school regularly, help them achieve confidence. Plus, these dogs aid in decreasing their anxiety of learning. As a result, kids develop reading and writing skills. It has been possible thanks to the therapy dog’s unconditional love. Kids learn how to express their feelings while entering into trusting relationships.
Although therapy dogs provide these known benefits, some schools avoid enrolling in dog therapy programs. Some school authorities believe that there might be some perceived risks. They fear the sanitation issue and the suitability of dog temperament. However, therapy dogs need to go through a strict testing program before certified. Thus, people shouldn’t fear these dogs. The significant reason for fearing these dogs is that people have limited knowledge regarding the therapy dog’s benefits in schools.
Benefits of therapy dogs at university
According to some researches, university students tend to experience stress and anxiety more often. The therapy dog can help those students reduce stress and increase happiness. The students get a good companion to hang out and play with. Therapy dogs boost their minds with joys and help them lead their life with ease.
The use of animals in the therapy field is effective for certain health conditions, but it is not appropriate for everyone.
Some pets can cause allergic reactions in some people. For instance, some people tend to be allergic to dander from a dog’s shedding. This small group of people may see a dog’s use in animal therapy as detrimental rather than helpful.
Although some may be merely uncomfortable or fearful of the animals, others may fear negative consequences due to their financial circumstance. They could instead opt to forego this method of treatment because it would contribute to their anxiety.
Others can find themselves quite attached to an animal in some cases. The consequence of this feeling could lead to one thing: possessiveness or to something that reduces the amount of satisfaction therapy provides.
Animals that visit hospitals and other related organizations can have some infections or diseases and transmit these infections and diseases to the patients. These can be potential risk factors for someone while receiving dog therapy.
Setting realistic goals and aspirations and then achieving those goals are the keys to success in pet therapy. This is done when you first begin treatment with your doctor or therapist. You’ll be closely supervised by your doctor or therapist, who will help you follow your goals and keep you on track. Your treatment plan may be adjusted if you are moving slower or faster than expected.
People of all ages and various physical and mental conditions can benefit from therapy with animals. Reducing stress, anxiety, and depression can have an overall positive effect on overall well-being and life’s social aspect. Thus, we can say that everybody can benefit of therapy dogs.