Therapy Dogs Emphasize The Animal-Human Bond

This Golden Retriever/Chocolate Lab mix therapy dog shows a lot of compassion and caring for her clientele.

We’ve known for a very long time that pets can help keep us healthy, both physically and emotionally.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, they can keep our blood pressure and cholesterol levels down.  Over 30 years ago, the Animal Veterinary Medical Association formally recognized the animal-human bond.  And, the National Institute for Mental Health says working with dogs, cats, horses, etc. may help people cope with trauma; sometimes animal-assisted therapy is used as an additional therapy for children.

Animals provide comfort and companionship.  They help with loneliness and can even prompt us to exercise a little by throwing balls, taking short walks or other playtime activities.

That said, therapy dogs are trained to provide affection and comfort to people in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, retirement homes and to people with learning difficulties, and stressful situations, such as disaster areas.

It’s important to differentiate the difference between a therapy dog and service dogs.  Although they have many of the same characteristics, a service dog has a few more: The Americans with Disabilities Act defines service dogs as any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal who is trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability.

Therapy dogs come in all sizes and breeds. The most important characteristic of a therapy dog is its temperament. A good therapy dog must be friendly, patient, confident, gentle, and at ease in all situations. Therapy dogs must enjoy human contact and be content to be petted and handled, sometimes clumsily.

To find out more, call your local ASPCA, Humane Society or Delta Society.

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Irene Ross, CHHC, AADP is a Nutrition and Wellness Coach for the two-legged.  Author of the forthcoming book, 25 Ways To Fire Up Your Day:  Increase Energy, Get More Done in Less Time, Balance Your Life, she is also an Ezine Expert Author.