Many dogs serve as wonderful and faithful companions to humanity. More than often, they showcase their loyalty, respect, and affection without expecting anything in return. Some dogs, with their sweet personalities and obedient natures, are talented at providing exceptional support to others in need. Sometimes, these dogs become therapy dogs. Therapy dogs are trained pets […]
Many dogs serve as wonderful and faithful companions to humanity. More than often, they showcase their loyalty, respect, and affection without expecting anything in return. Some dogs, with their sweet personalities and obedient natures, are talented at providing exceptional support to others in need. Sometimes, these dogs become therapy dogs. Therapy dogs are trained pets that help improve the emotional health of people with disabilities.
Therapy dogs can either live inside people’s homes or visit a variety of locations, such as retirement homes and hospitals. All therapy dogs are trained to be gentle, sweet, and playful—more so than they already are! They must also be comfortable around strangers and accept hugs and other forms of contact, especially from energetic children.
In honor of National Therapy Animal Day, here’s everything you should know about therapy dogs!
You may have heard of the term “service dogs” before. A service dog refers to trained dogs who help their human companions with their daily activities. Service dogs and therapy dogs are two different types of trained animals. Each type of dog provides a varying number of services for their human friends.
Service dogs, for example, perform specific tasks for their owners. They may pull their owner’s wheelchair, calm down those with PTSD, or retrieve certain items like medication bottles. Service dogs usually receive rigorous training that involves performing certain tasks. This helps them provide their owners with a wide range of help that allows them to overcome their disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act categorizes service dogs as working animals. They are allowed to accompany their owners around public places and other areas.
Therapy dogs, on the other hand, only provide emotional support to their owners. They’re often called “comfort dogs” because of the attention and comfort they give to their human companions. The gentle demeanor and unconditional love they express towards their owners has a high therapeutic value. Some of the patients they provide support to include people with PTSD, autism, heart patients, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Because they’re not considered service animals under the ADA, therapy dogs do not have the same privileges as service dogs. This means they may not be allowed to accompany their owners in certain public places unless permission is granted beforehand. Many therapy dogs are invited to events or locations for positive therapy practices.
In truth, any dog with a friendly, social, and obedient personality can become a therapy dog. They will need special training to become accustomed to strangers. Most therapy dogs are popular large dog breeds like Golden Retrievers, Poodles, and St. Bernards, but even smaller dogs like Pomeranians can be the perfect comfort animal.
Of course, along with a dog’s breed, a dog’s early environment and temperament are huge factors in their candidacy to become therapy dogs. Puppies must be raised in a healthy environment to help them grow into well-adjusted adult dogs. Before a dog can become a therapy animal, they will be tested for their eligibility. They may be observed for their response to loud noises, being touched by strangers, and unfamiliar equipment like wheelchairs.
Many people who suffer from a variety of mental and physical challenges can benefit from having a therapy dog by their side. Along with those who suffer from PTSD, autism, and Alzheimer’s disease, patients with ADHD, depression, and bipolar disorder can find comfort and relief through their interactions with a therapy dog.
Therapy dogs also help those with physical challenges, especially those who’ve undergone surgical treatment. In fact, studies suggest that those recovering from surgeries or accidents heal more quickly when they spend more time with animals. Other studies have also shown that dog-owner interactions increase happiness as touching and playing with a dog increases the production of oxytocin (the “happy hormone”) and lowers cortisol (the stress hormone).
One of the best things about therapy dogs is that anyone can enjoy them. If you or a loved one would like a therapy dog, there are numerous websites available online that can provide you with information based on your location. Just search up “therapy dog” on a search engine and include the name of your city and state to find organizations that can help you. You may also join online groups that can give you the information you’d like.
If you are interested in training your dog to become a therapy dog, you will need to search for training sessions online. You can do this by searching up” therapy dog training” and finding opportunities in your location. ALso, when in doubt, ask for the requirements in each facility you plan to visit.
Sometimes, we need a furry companion to help us get through the hardships of life. Therapy dogs, with their immense unconditional love and loyalty, give patients a little light during dark times. It’s through this emotional support and love that patients can make a speedy recovery from their treatments or live a more healthy, functioning lifestyle. On National Therapy Animal Day, we celebrate these wonderful animals, and all other animals that provide support to those in need!