Therapy Dogs Are More Popular Than Ever
Are you a dog person? If so, there probably many reasons why, but perhaps the most influential fact is that they provide you with unconditional love and acceptance. Whether you are up or down, or sick or healthy, Fido is there for you, with no limits to his affection. This is most likely the main reason that therapy dogs are becoming more and more popular — and prevalent — in the U.S.
What is a Therapy Dog?
Therapy dogs are dogs who are trained to respond to people in need with the unconditional love and acceptance they can offer. Their owners volunteer to take them to places such as schools, nursing homes or hospitals to help improve the day to day lives of those in those situations. Therapy dogs are particularly helpful in reliving anxiety and stress that a person may feel because of a tough time that they are going through. The most popular breeds for use as therapy dogs tend to be golden retrievers, Bernese mountain dogs and Labrador retrievers.
How Therapy Dogs Help
Over time, dogs have acquired the ability to bond with humans like no other animal. They are able to perceive our behavior and emotions and react to them in just the right way. They can interpret our body language, gestures, tone of voice and even our emotions. Dogs can soothe humans in need like no other human because there is no presumption of pity or judgment.
Dogs, and even cats, can fulfill a particularly important basic human need — that of the need for touch. Being able to pet, hug or otherwise touch a therapy dog can almost instantly soothe or calm someone who is suffering from stress or anxiety.
Long-term benefits and changes in behavior have even become evident in even with criminals in prison when interacting with therapy dogs. When interacting with therapy dogs, many of them may be experiencing a first time interaction with mutual affection.
Demand for Therapy Dogs Increasing
More and more therapy dogs are being put into action across the nation, with tens of thousands of them already actively in practice. They can help humans heal from depression and loneliness, and even improve physical health issues, such as heart disease. Study after study reveals that consistent interaction with animals can decrease anxiety, lower blood pressure and improve a person’s general outlook and quality of life.
Healthcare and social services providers are turning increasingly to therapy dogs to help with the recovery of their patients and clients to improve their social, physical and emotional healing. These providers include hospitals, assisted home living facilities, veterans’ hospitals and hospices. Patients often have better health outcomes when therapy dogs are used.
Therapy Dog Visits
When therapy dogs visit certain people or places, it often becomes the highlight of their week, especially if they are lonely or depressed. And for those with disabilities, a visit from a therapy dog can brighten their day, simply because a dog doesn’t view or identify them based on their disability. A therapy dog simply offers comfort those who need it, without ever placing judgment.
Finally, in reducing a person’s stress and depression, they can help people see tomorrow as a better day, and the next one even better.