WHAT IS CANINE ASSISTED THERAPY?
Canine-assisted therapy uses dogs to promote health and healing. Like other animals, dogs are accepting, comforting and non-judgmental, making them ideal therapy companions. Therapy dogs undergo extensive training before working with patients.
Since the mid-1970s when canine therapy was introduced in clinical settings, this treatment has been offered in therapeutic boarding schools, special needs programs, hospitals, nursing homes, prisons and mental health facilities. It is effective for children, adolescents and adults.
A variety of people can benefit from canine therapy, including those with autism, learning disabilities, behavioral problems and substance abuse. It is particularly beneficial when the patient is resistant to treatment or struggles to communicate verbally. Because of its hands-on approach, canine therapy is also useful for children and teens that have difficulty focusing.
In canine assisted therapy, patients may:
- Learn to give a dog commands
- Walk a dog
- Play interactive games with a dog
- Pet and care for a dog
Research proves that interacting with and caring for a dog has many therapeutic benefits, including:
- Decreased stress, relief from anxiety and depression
- Increased physical activity, improvement of fine and gross motor skills
- Increased focus and attention through hands-on interaction
- Improved communication and social skills
- Improved cognition
- Increased self-esteem
- Reduced blood pressure, elevated mood
- Reduced loneliness and enhanced sense of purpose
Ensuring vaccinations are up to date, and regular checkups to ensure the dogs are in good health is a priority at out center, in addition to ensuring adequate training for our therapy dogs.