Meet Pippin, my canine therapy dog! He is a miniature schnauzer that is an active part of my therapy practice. Currently Pippin divides his time between visits to my office, training and relaxing at home like any regular dog. His favorite activities include fetching toys, sleeping and did I mention playing fetch?!
WHAT IS CANINE-ASSISTED THERAPY?
Canine-assisted therapy uses dogs to promote health and healing. As many of us know from personal experience, dogs are accepting, comforting and non-judgmental, making them ideal therapy companions. This form of therapy began being used in the mid 1970’s in a variety of clinical settings and was found to be effective for people of all ages and emotional issues.
Dogs often mirror our feelings, as such; canine therapy can help teach people to manage their emotions. The calmer we are, the more agreeable the dog becomes. Learning to be more self-aware and in touch with our feelings can be very healing. Children and teens respond particularly well to canine therapy, developing trust and strong bonds with the animals. Many find it easier to open up and talk when the focus is on the dog.
In canine therapy, clients may:
- Learn to give a dog commands
- Walk and play with a dog
- Pet and snuggle a dog
Following these tasks, the therapist processes the experience with the client, gaining insights into their feelings about the experience as well as the way the lessons learned can apply to other situations.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF CANINE THERAPY?
Research suggests that interacting with and caring for a dog has many therapeutic benefits, including:
- Decreased stress
- Increased physical activity
- Relief from anxiety and depression
- Increased focus and attention through hands-on interaction
- Learning the appropriate way to treat themselves and others
- Unconditional love, affection and nurturing
- Increased self-esteem
- Reduced blood pressure
- Elevated mood
- Reduced loneliness and enhanced sense of purpose
- Setting and respecting boundaries
Pippin and I will be sure to keep you updated on his day to day adventures!</li