What types of services do therapy dogs provide?
What benefits do therapy dogs offer humans? Please include personal experiences. Any trainers out there willing to share general fyi is appreciated.
- KirstenLv 71 decade agoFavorite Answer
Therapy dogs are those invited to visit hospitals and nursing homes to cheer up the residents. I've done some therapy dog visits.
The most rewarding experience for us was working with a semi-comatose child. His mother asked me if my dog barked and I said no of course not that he'd been taught to be quiet. She was disappointed and explained she was looking for stimuli for her son. Anything to get a reaction from him. So I cued my dog to bark and then held the boy's hand on Cole's fur helping him pet. Cole turned and delicately licked his hand and the child pulled his hand away. His mother was ecstatic that he was aware of the lick and reacted. Maybe that doesn't seem like much, but if you'd seen the look on the mother's face and how much it meant to her....
On several other occasions I've seen psychiatric patients who had been in psychotic episodes and not speaking suddenly speak and respond to my dog. One time I was playing ball with some other patients and my dog, ever the gentleman, insisted that everyone be included. He went to each person in turn and offered his ball. He approached a man sitting off by himself. Cole dropped the ball at his feet and looked hopefully at him. No response. So he dropped the ball ON his feet. Several times. Finally the man smiled slightly, picked up the ball, and tossed it for him. I was there for several hours and that was the only time I saw the man interact with anyone.
J. K. Odendaal of South Africa has published several papers on the physiology of the human/animal bond. He recorded several biochemical markers in the blood of both humans and dogs both before and after they interacted. He found that both species benefited with the release of chemicals that affect neurotransmitters related to feeling good and lowered blood pressure.
Several others have repeated his initial experiment. After I saw Dr. Odendaal speak at my local University the School of Nursing did their own study using chemotherapy patients to see if therapy dog visits improved their post-treatment reactions.
- KatwalaLv 61 decade ago
Therapy Dogs can do work in nursing homes and in hospitals acting to both bring general good cheer and to get people to do physical and occupational therapy type exercises.
My dogs favorite Therapy Dog activity is "read to the Dogs" where we go to local libraries and let kids read to him. He's nonjudgmental about the reading and it helps the shyer kids with reading skills.
There are dozens of other activities that therapy dogs participate in.
- 1 decade ago
Companionship is the main thing. Animals can really cheer up people. They say if you have a pet you're less likely to suffer from depression or stress.