A therapy dog is a dog that might be trained to provide affection, comfort and love to people in hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, schools, hospices, disaster areas, and are defined but not covered or protected under the Federal Housing Act or Americans with Disabilities act. They also do not have public access rights with exception to the specific places they are visiting and working. Typically the dog would be granted rights by individual facilities only.
Pet therapy builds on the pre-existing human-animal bond. Interacting with a friendly pet can help many physical and mental issues. It can help reduce blood pressure and improve overall cardiovascular health. It can also release endorphins that produce a calming effect. This can help alleviate pain, reduce stress, and improve your overall psychological state.
Pet therapy can be used in many different ways. Defined objectives are an important part of therapy, and your progress will be recorded and tracked at structured sessions.
The goals of a pet therapy program can include:
- improving motor skills and joint movement
- improving assisted or independent movement
- increasing self-esteem
- increasing verbal communication
- developing social skills
- increasing willingness to join in activities
- improving interactions with others
- motivating willingness to exercise
Other benefits of pet therapy include:
- making you happier, lessening depression, and improving your outlook on life
- decreasing loneliness and isolation by giving you a companion
- reducing boredom
- reducing anxiety because of its calming effects
- helping children learn empathic and nurturing skills
- improving the relationship between you and your healthcare provider