The Benefits Of Therapy Dogs
The advent of therapy dogs is one of the benefits the millennia-long relationship with our furry friends has yielded in recent times. Since they officially became a thing in the latter part of the twentieth century, they have become increasingly popular and are now often found in hospitals, nursing homes, rehab centres, and even schools and libraries. In this article, we will discuss what therapy dog are and why they are so important.
What are therapy dogs?
therapy dogs are dogs that are involved in providing physical, and emotional support to the ill and convalescent for therapeutic purposes. Therapy dogs come in different types, based on where and how they provide support to people, some of which include the following:
- Some dogs are used to offer emotional support and encourage ill people in hospitals when they are brought on frequent visitations by their owners.
- Some dogs offer support to persons suffering from mental and cognitive ailments in nursing homes. They are also residents in these homes.
- Some dogs are involved in the physical rehabilitation of invalids in rehabilitation centres. Over some time, they help to improve and restore convalescents' motor skills.
Qualities of therapy Dogs
The most important qualities of a therapy dog are composure, calmness, sociability, and empathy. In addition, a therapy dog should have no issues with human contact (that is patting, cuddling, and the likes). It is also worthy of note that a therapy dog should be neat, well-groomed, and in good health.
Dogs are often drilled or trained for a while before they are certified as therapy dogs. This is to ensure their competency, the safety of persons around them, and their safety as well.
Some aspects of their training include:
- Ensuring that they are not worried by sudden sounds and movements in their surroundings.
- Their tests are also aimed at making them comfortable around people of different dispositions and appearances- like those with canes, wheelchairs, and so on, for example.
- In addition, they are trained to be comfortable with different forms of human contact like patting, cuddling, and sitting on people's laps- especially for the smaller dogs.
Breeds that can be used as therapy dogs
A variety of breeds are used as therapy dogs. However, breeds that have a natural tendency to be relatively more sociable are often used because they are easier to work with. For example, dogs that are companion dogs by nature will be easier to train than 'guard dog' breeds. Popular dog breeds used as therapy dogs include:
- Labrador retrievers
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
- Golden Retrievers, among others.
Benefits of therapy dogs
Studies have shown that the use of therapy dogs for convalescents and people suffering from illnesses has been beneficial in the following aspects:
- They help to reduce the severity of phobias in predisposed patients.
- They help reduce depression and regulate mood disorders.
- Contact with therapy dogs confers a sense of calmness and comfort upon patients. Thus, they help them deal with panic disorders and post-traumatic stress disorders.
- They help reduce blood pressure and heart rate.
Have you had an encounter with a therapy dog? Did you find it fulfilling? We will love to hear about your encounters. Do send us some feedback. We do hope this article was insightful and you learned what you could about therapy dogs.