9 Ways Your Lovable Pooch Can Help People With Mental And Physical Illnesses

If your dog is sociable, affectionate and well-behaved, they may have what it takes to be a therapy dog. You and your therapy dog would travel to sites, such as hospitals, nursing homes and schools, to volunteer your services. There are organizations that can aid in the training and certification of your dog, including Therapy Dogs International. Read on to learn some of the things that your dog can do in this role.


1. Giving Children the Confidence to Read

Reading to a friendly dog helps kids shrug away their fear of judgment while they practice their skills. ITA’s R.E.A.D. program has affiliates all around the world.


2. Making a Difference in Assisted Living Communities

Being involved in fewer activities than in their past, senior citizens in assisted living communities are able to fill their lives with a little bit of joy by interacting with a therapy dog – or even a therapy cat – for companionship and affection.


3. Palliative Comfort in Hospice Care

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Hospices are programs where people who are terminally ill live the last six months of their lives. Therapy dogs provide comfort and peace and may even lay at the end of the bed during a person’s final moments of life. They can also help comfort this person’s family.


4. Unconditional Love at Shelters for Victims of Abuse

People who are victims of abuse have a history of unstable relationships in their lives. A therapy dog can offer steady and unconditional, readily accepted love.


5. Aid in Disaster Relief

Victims in disasters have difficulty processing the reality of all that they’ve lost. Therapy dogs help them process their pain and even boost morale among the relief workers.


6. Therapy for People With Mental Illness

Numerous studies have shown that the prognosis of patients with mental illness has fared better when supplemented with animal-assisted therapy. Your therapy dog can give someone much-needed relief from their often unacknowledged pain.


7. Visits for Those Who Receive Care at Home

Photo By Jonathan Banks

Photo By Jonathan Banks

Many people don’t have the mobility or the convenience to make it to a pet therapy session. Fortunately, therapy dogs travel. Whether on a room-by-room basis in nursing homes and assisted living centers or at a private home where someone receives care, services can arrange to have pets visit loved ones where they are most comfortable.


8. College Students De-Stress Before Exams

College is a difficult time; among the academic stress, the separation from family and other societal influences, the pressure is high on young students. Therapy dogs have started to visit college campuses over the past several years.

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