Therapy dogs are heroes in our world when it comes to helping people with anxiety in overwhelming situations. People with anxiety can gain tremendous benefits from having a therapy dog can provide a sense of calmness, anticipate anxiety attacks, and even fetch anxiety medication for their owner.
We’ve written a complete beginners guide to having a therapy dog for anxiety. Read more below.
What are Therapy dogs?
To start off with what are Therapy dogs exactly? Are they the same as service dogs and emotional support dogs? In short, No. Therapy dog’s help provide a sense of comfort, companionship and can reduce feelings of anxiety and/or depression to name a few benefits. Therapy dogs can also offer practical and emotional support to people with a physical or mental health difficulty. They are trained specifically to help with certain situations and support the individual may need. Community Therapy dogs often visit places with vulnerable individuals such as nursing homes, hospitals, and schools to soothe stressed patients and students, but they also provide 1:1 support in family homes for a child or adult.
Their roles vary from actively participating in physical therapy to giving children with learning disabilities or anxiety, the confidence to read aloud and improve reading skills. Moreover they also can play a key role in recovery and stress because of their non-judgmental natures and willingness to interact with anybody no matter their physical or emotional state.
Benefits having a Therapy dog to help with anxiety.
· They can detect signs of an anxiety attack before it happens
· Can fetch medication or a drink during an anxiety attack
· Get others attention to help the person in distress
· Helps calm a person down during an anxiety attack through distraction, such as licking their face or providing a paw
· Trained to provide deep pressure therapy to soothe their owner
· Provide companionship to those alone in situations
· When an individual pets a dog, hormones such as serotonin, prolactin, and oxytocin, which play a role in elevating moods, are released in the brain.
Being around the dogs can also provide other benefits in the individuals life including:
Stress relief – As said above, when an individual pets a dog, hormones such as serotonin, prolactin, and oxytocin, which play a role in elevating moods, are released in the brain.
Exercise and a breath of fresh air – Having a dog comes with its responsibilities, one being going out for a walk. Walking a dog means spending more time outdoors which can result in boosting the individuals mental health and increase their vitamin D intake, which is known to improve a person’s mood. Overall, it is very important for our physical health to be outdoors and getting exercise.
Companionship and a friend – Having a dog in your presence can help fill the gap and feeling of loneliness and isolation.
Sense of Security- Some dogs make their owners feel safer, either by the dog’s intimidating appearance or propensity to bark at strangers and strange noises around them.
What breed can become a Therapy dog?
Therapy dogs can come in all breeds, shapes, and sizes, but they all share a common purpose in which is to provide people with comfort and companionship. The most important factors are the individual dog’s temperament, and its ability to complete training.
Some of the breeds that we work with include:
· Portuguese water dogs
· Golden retrievers
· Labrador retrievers
Interested in a therapy dog for your child/family or school or want to have a visit from one of our trained therapy dogs? Learn more at www.balesbuddies.org