Therapy dogs are trained professional dogs that are socialized through a certification program. These dogs provide support in schools, hospitals, nursing homes, colleges, corporations, and other distressing locations. The goal of training a therapy dog is to help improve the lives of other people in need of companionship. Therefore, these professional dogs are trained to work in public places. Places such as planes, restaurants, and libraries are some of the many locations that allow therapy dogs.
While I’m a bit biased because I love my dog, I think almost everyone who has a dog knows how incredible the bond can be. Think about how much easier it is to get out of bed when you feel the wet nose of your dog poking you. A dog is a beautiful companion in life regardless of having certified training or not. Overall, having a dog is an incredible opportunity to learn about how you can positively affect an animal’s life and vice versa. Therapy dogs take this one step further by providing you and others with a calming and unconditional support and assistance. They are socialized to let others pet them and to behave in many different environments.
If you have ever been around a loving and caring animal, you might understand how relaxing it is to spend some time with them. These professional canines provide extra support so people can relax and control their feelings. Most of the certification programs are very demanding and require the dogs to take behavioral tests. Many companies use the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen test to make sure the dog is ready to interact with strangers.
One study from Andreea A. Grigore Alina S. Rusu researched how therapy dogs can help socialize children who have autism. They combined therapy dogs with the popular social story method. The researchers released their results back in 2014 and found that with the inclusion therapy dogs, the children approached others and introduced themselves more often. The children also needed less prompting to use their social skill exercises.
A medical study included in the journal of the Association of Bone and Joint Surgeons ran a study to see if the soothing therapeutic ability of therapy dogs could help patients manage their pain after surgery. In this study, medical doctors supplied some patients who were recovering from total joint replacement with therapy dogs. The results are in, and the patients with therapy dogs did better. They reported less pain and recovered faster than the patients who had the standard treatment after surgery with no therapy dogs.
Though it might sound like having a therapy dog is the solution, it’s only part of what people need to get better. According to two research studies, having a therapy dog does not guarantee you won’t have issues. However, therapy dogs can help you tremendously. The first article by Melissa G. Hunt and Rachel R. Chizkov tried to reduce victim trauma stress with therapy dogs reported the effects were significant, but not large enough to make a difference on their own. They recommend another service to help patients while they have a therapy dog. In short, the dogs did have a positive effect, but the test group still had similar levels of stress after spending time with the dogs. Hunt and Chizkov did report that when they followed up with the patients, everyone with a therapy dog reported lower depressive symptoms and improved long-term outcome. The other study by Courtney L. Henry and Susan L. Crowley reported that at the end of treatment all patients had less anxiety and depressive symptoms. There did appear to be a trend of greater success when the therapist connected with the patient and included the therapy dog as part of treatment. Henry and Crowley suggest that a future larger study should be run to learn more.
After learning so much about these therapy dogs, you may be thinking what do I need to find one that can help yourself. The American Kennel Club is an excellent organization to help you find a therapy dog. This company approves training site across the country, and they keep a list of breeders. Many of the breeders all train their dogs and other dogs. You can use this link to the American Kennel Club marketplace. In their marketplace, you can find a therapy dog according to your zip code. If you own a dog, the American Kennel Club can also help you find a trainer that will teach your dog how to be a therapy dog.
Trying to pick the best therapy dog for you is a serious decision. You shouldn’t pick one without considering how the dog will be helping you. With this in mind, a great place to start is with the size of the dog. There are small and large breeds with their unique advantages. Small dogs are helpful because they’re easy to lift up and don’t take up as much room. Large dogs are useful because they can climb onto beds and might be calmer. Here is a list provided by the Companion Animals corporation that can be helpful in making this choice. If the dog has a relaxed demeanor, there is a higher chance that training will be quicker and more successful.
Therapy dogs have recently been in the news for their great work. One dog mentioned online is Argos. He mostly provides comfort for children who are struggling with difficult issues. Argos was one of the initial therapy dog serving children at the Lee Gross Anthone Child Advocacy Center. Another therapy dog who recently made it onto the news for its work is Fraser of the HCA Virginia’s unique Pet Therapy program. A video here shows how Fraser helped patients by providing comfort. Generally speaking, most people find therapy dogs to be helpful. They offer a service that helps people heal both physically, and mentally. At present, the number of therapy dogs continues to grow. Hopefully, more animals in the future may be hired to provide therapeutic services. Several places they would be helpful include residential homes, hospitals, mental treatment facilities, schools, and any location with high levels of stress.