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What are Therapy Dogs?
The Benefits of Therapy Dogs
More than ever, the benefits of having a pet is being touted as a direct link to good health. Many people are now happy to share their good fortune, of having an ideal pet, as a source of therapy in their communities. In addition to dogs, other domesticated pets are used as well. This include cats, rabbits, horses, birds, miniature pigs and more. But a well socialized dog remains the most popular.
Think your pet would be an ideal therapy friend? Please keep reading.
What is a therapy dog?
A therapy dog is your pet, certified or registered through an organization. It is not a new idea. There have been organized volunteer programs for more than three decades. Dogs are tested and certified through these programs and then registered as volunteers, along with their handlers.
How does it relieve stress?
Studies have shown that holding or petting an animal can lower blood pressure, help relieve stress and tension, and help a person who is experiencing depression and loneliness. In stressful environments or situations, people have been shown to open up when there is a therapy dog onsite.
Does it benefit the dog?
Too often dogs are left home alone, everyday, and would in fact benefit by staying active and having regularly scheduled activities.
How do I know my pet will be an ideal therapy dog?
Generally, a happy laid back dog is perfect. All dogs and breeds qualify, but they must be at least six months old and have lived with you for at least 6 months. They should get along with other pets, show no aggression, and have a good personality. Your dog should be house-broken, well groomed, and should also be up to date with all vaccinations. Some programs may provide some form of training but your dog should know basic obedience commands like 'sit' and 'stay.'
(See photos of Shiloh and Malachi who are well groomed, socialized, laid back, get along with SInatra, the fluffy cat also in the photo, and are comfortable around children and others. These two friendly pups make ideal therapy dogs. Their appearance alone attracts people and causes a positive, feel-good response. See links below for malamute care)
How do I volunteer for the program?
Search for a dog-therapy program in your community. There is a large established program in NJ that has programs in almost all 50 states (tdi-dog.org). It can take a month or up to six months before you can make an unsupervised visit.
Where would we volunteer?
Therapy dogs are welcomed in a variety of programs. It may be a school setting where your pet may help a child with special needs. You may also be invited to visit hospitalized children and adults, pre-surgical patients, as well as nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities, libraries, hospices and shelters. It is amazing the effect that a friendly, loving dog can have on just about anybody.
For more information about other types of therapies, see link below:
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Caring for Your Malamute
- EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ALASKAN MALAMUTES
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- Alaskan Malamute Training and Grooming
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