The presence of animals, especially pets, assists in developing feelings of affection and empathy in us as humans. Simply being near our pets decreases a stress hormone called cortisol. Therapy dogs provide relief in anxiety-provoking situations, and comfort for those grieving or lonely. Learn more and unpack the therapeutic benefits that having your dog as your therapist, can provide.
What is a therapy dog?
A therapy dog provides comfort and affection to individuals who require help dealing with a physical or emotional problem. Unlike service dogs, therapy dogs do not provide a specific service for a person with special needs, or receive full public access. They are also not emotional support animals, who require a prescription from mental health or health care professionals. A therapy dog is a dog that is trained to provide affection, comfort, and support to people. They are often used in settings such as hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, schools, libraries, hospices, or disaster areas.
There are three types of therapy dogs. The most common is “Therapeutic Visitation ”. These dogs are household pets whose owners take time to visit hospitals, nursing homes, detention facilities, and rehabilitation facilities. These people miss their pets, and a visit from a visitation dog often lifts their spirits. The second type of therapy dog is called an “Animal Assisted Therapy” dog. These dogs assist physical and occupational therapists in meeting goals important to a person’s recovery. The third type of therapy dog is called a “Facility Therapy Dog”. These dogs primarily work in nursing homes and are often trained to help patients with Alzheimer’s disease or other mental illnesses. They are handled by a trained member of the staff and live at the facility.
Benefits of a therapy dog
What makes therapy animals unique from service animals and emotional support animals is that their role is not to serve their handlers, but to give attention and affection to all people. Dogs are the most commonly used type of therapy animal because of how intuitively they bond with humans. Research proves that working with therapy dogs offers psychological advantages. Sessions with therapy dogs reduce blood pressure as effectively as eliminating sodium or alcohol. Children who work with therapy dogs have increased reading fluency by a median of 21%. Clinical trials reveal therapy dogs may reduce patients’ perceptions of pain.
Your dog as your therapist
Sagittarius Way offers sessions that help owners connect with their dogs, as well as teach them to interpret their pet’s messages effectively. Animals see the habits and patterns of their owners. They also have unique perspectives about their owners’ lives that may come as a surprise. There are two sessions a month for a year. The first step is to identify the problem or set a goal that will be reached or resolved by the end of the year. After familiarising myself with both the owner and the dog, I can find the habits that need to be adopted or the changes that need to be made and apply them in the way that suits the client best.
Dogs provide unconditional emotional support and companionship. I would love to provide expert advice as I facilitate the process. Book a session with me today to kickstart the healing and self-discovery journey.