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Friday, August 19, 2022

Therapy Dogs boost mental and physical health: Benefits of dog therapy

dog therapy

For many pet parents, their furry friends are their ultimate source of joy. You can talk over and over again about the time they spend with them and the happiness they add to their lives. Especially in times of the coronavirus pandemic, when everything is quiet and dull, the presence of a dog in the house can improve the mood of people around them. 

Numerous studies have found how a dog can perceive the mood and emotions of its owner, and that is in itself a sense of calm. By providing emotional support, therapy dogs are pets that boost their health and reduce stress. You can train your dog to be a therapy dog to support yourself and others. Therapy dogs live in people’s homes. 

Therapy dogs can also visit a variety of facilities, including nursing or nursing homes, schools, hospices, and hospitals. They are trained to be kind and kind and to accept strangers who embrace or caress them. They’re just a kind of therapeutic animal. For a dog to be a good candidate to become a therapy dog and get certified, it must be calm and social with strangers. You should also be able to tune in loud noises and fast movements. 

Therapy Dogs and Service Dogs

blind-person-with-service-dog

You may have also heard of service dogs, but they are different from therapy dogs. On behalf of their owners, service dogs are taught to perform particular tasks. They receive rigorous, task-oriented, high-level training that specifically aims to help their owners manage disabilities. 

Therapy dogs are sometimes referred to as “comfort dogs”. They support a person’s mental health by providing care and comfort. Their sweet behavior and unconditional love can have therapeutic benefits for those facing difficult health problems. However, unlike service dogs, anyone can enjoy a therapeutic dog. The therapy animal must be invited to the premises to provide positive comfort therapy. 

How therapy dogs can improve their health 

Therapy-Dogs-can-Improve-Your-Mental-Physical-Health

Some mental health problems and psychiatric disorders are known to respond well to therapy dogs. Patients who have been diagnosed with a variety of problems, such conditions as depression, autism, cancer ADHD, bipolar disorder, and Alzheimer’s disease, benefit from their interaction with therapy dogs and other pets. 

Sometimes emotional challenges result from physical health problems, and therapy dogs can help with that too. Research suggests that patients who are recovering from a difficult operation or serious accident and who participate in animal-assisted therapy may experience less pain. Studies have shown that such interactions can increase the mood-boosting hormone oxytocin and lower the stress hormone cortisol. 

What type of breed can be a therapy dog

 Any friendly dog breed can be a therapy dog with little training on daily basis. Larger breeds, such as golden retrievers, standard poodles, Labradors, and St. Bernards are generally used as therapy dogs. However, smaller breeds, such as mini poodles and Pomeranians, are good choices if your dog and patient share a small space. 

The good behavior of the dog may depend in part on its breed, but it depends mainly on how the dog is raised and how uniform its temperament develops. Before being approved as therapy animals, dogs are tested and observed for their response to stimuli such as loud or confusing noises, sudden seizures, or even equipment such as sticks or wheelchairs. 

How does canine therapy work?

animal-therapy

 Canine therapy can pursue multiple goals that determine how it works. The type of therapy and the purpose of this therapy may change depending on the condition and the type of help the person needs. Some examples include: 

  • Providing comfort and reducing pain
  •  Improving motor or movement skills
  •  Developing social or behavioral skills 
  • Increasing motivation for activities such as exercise or interaction with others

 The animal therapy process itself typically involves the pet’s dog trainer, or often the owner, and takes the animal to each session. The professional will work under medical guidance to help the person achieve the goals of their therapy. 

The benefits of canine therapy 

  • Cognitive

 Programs such as the Assistance Dogs for Reading Education (R.E.A.D.) program promote literacy and communication skills. In practice, therapy dogs are used to encourage children to read aloud by giving them a listener without prejudice. It has been shown that children’s academic performance and enthusiasm for reading have increased when carrying a therapy dog, especially among children with them. The goals of dog-assisted reading and learning programs include increasing reading ability, increasing motivation to read, attention, encouraging reluctant readers, and making reading fun. Researchers have identified other cognitive benefits of therapy dogs, including increased mental stimulation and helping them recover memories and sequences of events. 

  • Physical 

interaction with therapy dogs improves cardiovascular health, and as a result, patients may need fewer medications. In-person pet visits and animal-assisted interventions (AAI) can benefit patients’ activity and pain, blood pressure, stress, depression, loneliness, and anxiety, and improve mobility, bond and socialization with employees and families. In addition, petting animals promotes the release of hormones that can improve mood, especially serotonin, prolactin, and oxytocin. 

Patients receiving occupational therapy have improved their fine motor skills by caring for therapy dogs. Studies have shown a decrease in cortisol levels in children with uncertain attachment styles, children on the autism spectrum, patients with heart failure in the hospital, and health professionals after physical contact with a dog. 

  • Social 

Dogs with social therapy promote students’ self-esteem and promote positive interaction with their peers and teachers. In addition, children with autism during therapy sessions when animals were present showed greater verbal ability and social interaction compared to traditional non-animal therapy sessions.

 Finishing lines

Many studies have shown that the presence of a dog can have a positive effect on psychology and physiology. Then the dog is combined with a suitable person who needs emotional or physical support and for remaining healthy all time. For working dogs, it is important to feed a high-quality, easily digestible diet. This means that nutrients in food are more easily digested, which reduces the amount of waste, makes it cost-effective, and also reduces the amount of dirt that needs to be ingested. 

References:

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-health/mood-boosting-power-of-dogs.htm

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/in-depth/pet-therapy/art-20046342

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/pets/essentials/the-benefits-of-dog-therapy/

Further Reading:

Kathy Diamond-Davis, Therapy Dogs: Training Your Dog to Reach Others पेपरबैक – इम्पोर्ट, 1 सितंबर 2002

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