A slight deviation from my typical posts, today I am writing about therapy dogs – still connected to physical therapy and running! Therapy dogs are utilized in a variety of settings to help provide comfort, affection, and love to people. They are different from working dogs and service dogs, which are specifically trained to perform tasks for people with disabilities or the military. However, most working dogs and service dogs provide many of the same benefits as therapy dogs. Therapy dogs are becoming more widespread and you can find them in schools, hospitals, airports, nursing homes, and many other facilities and public places.
According to a variety of sources including UCLA Health, therapy dogs are proven to provide the following benefits to people they interact with:
- Increased relaxation and comfort
- Decreased stress and anxiety
- Decreased fear
- Decreased loneliness
- Decreased pain
- Lower blood pressure
- Increased motivation
Therapy dogs are used to help patients with various diagnoses and chronic conditions including Alzheimer’s disease and Autism. Therapy dogs are brought into patient rooms at hospitals to help calm patients as well as their families. Therapy dogs are used in schools and workplaces to help increase happiness and provide a better environment for students and employees. Therapy dogs are connected with people and families affected by war, natural disasters, and trauma to ease their suffering.
There are risks involved with therapy dogs. The dogs need to be properly trained, vaccinated, and groomed/bathed regularly. Not everyone loves dogs, and some people are allergic. I think the benefits far outweigh the risks though, and most people agree. We have two therapy dogs in the rehab department of the hospital I work at. They are golden retrievers, and I have never seen anyone push them away. The dogs are absolutely wonderful and always brighten your day with a tail wag. Both of the dogs are certified by Pet Partners. Pet Partners is one of the largest and leading organizations for therapy animals in the U.S.
Although our pets at home are not certified therapy dogs, I believe they provide the same benefits and comfort. Our dog Cassie is always there for us, ready to be pet and snuggle. She radiates happiness and loyalty, and never fails to put a smile on our faces or be our friend. Most people walk their dogs, and many people run with them. Our dogs get us out of the house and into the fresh air. They make us laugh, give us responsibility, and support building relationships. Dogs help make a house a home, and they teach us life lessons. Cassie also makes me feel safe and protected. Therapy dogs or not, pets make us healthier and happier people!
Where have you seen a therapy dog that made a difference?
How does your pet provide you therapy?