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What Are Therapy Dogs and Why Are They Important? 

What Are Therapy Dogs and Why Are They Important? 

What Are Therapy Dogs and Why Are They Important? 

Dogs are truly man’s best friend! They help us in many ways, from shepherding, farming, and hunting to providing company and protection. We are so lucky to have these intelligent animals with us, even providing physical and mental support. Nowadays, we are so lucky to have therapy dogs who can help improve our health and well-being, providing reassurance that we have them every step of the way. 

What is a Therapy Dog? 

Therapy dogs are specially trained canines that play a valuable role in society by giving affection, comfort, and emotional support to individuals in various settings. Dogs with friendly and sweet characters are typically selected to become therapy dogs because they can provide therapeutic benefits to people in hospitals, schools, nursing homes, disaster areas, and rehabilitation centers. This is why they often become an important part of a healthcare team, as they can help make a huge impact in many people’s lives. 

Therapy dogs can also support children with developmental abilities such as autism by helping them become calm, reduce their stress levels, ease their anxiety, and help them learn to interact with others. They often participate in activities such as sitting quietly with patients, performing tricks to uplift their moods, and participating in petting sessions that help manage mental and emotional health. 

How are Therapy Dogs Different From Service Dogs?

Service dogs are specially trained to assist individuals with disabilities. They are paired with a specific individual and trained for a specific role to assist that individual on a daily basis. They undergo rigorous training that gives them the skills to fulfill tasks to help their owner cope with what they need to do. 

They can assist them in emergencies by being alert and conscious of their humans’ actions. Similar to service dogs,  Emotional Support Animals (ESAs) and psychiatric service dogs are certified to provide emotional support to specific individuals who have specific emotional or mental health conditions. Therapy dogs are brought into places like hospitals and rehabilitation centers where people need the most support with managing their emotions and reducing stress. 

On the other hand, therapy dogs “work” with the guidance of their handlers, who ensure that their interactions with individuals are appropriate and helpful. They undergo training to develop their good manners and gentle temperaments and exhibit a warm and welcoming atmosphere for the people they will be with. Therapy dogs are often certified by organizations that assess their obedience, temperament, and suitability for providing therapy work. Most of the time, therapy dogs 

Why Are Therapy Dogs Important? 

Meet Tilly, a therapy dog trained at Happy Pup Manor

Therapy dogs have been providing support, comfort, and companionship to people because of their ability to positively impact the well-being of the people and groups they interact with. Here are proven reasons why therapy dogs are important:

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Provides Emotional Support 

Therapy dogs have a calming and comforting presence that can help reduce stress, anxiety, and feelings of loneliness. Their calm nature and unconditional love help individuals undergoing difficult times manage their emotions better. Interacting with therapy dogs, such as petting or playing with them, releases feel-good hormones such as serotonin and oxytocin. 

Just by being present and available, therapy dogs can reduce negative emotions, especially for people who are struggling with emotional conditions such as depression and emotional distress. Their presence can effectively help lessen the feeling of isolation. This is why therapy dogs are often brought to therapy centers and rehabilitation centers to help people feel comfortable and open themselves to help from others. 

Promotes Mental Stimulation

Did you ever feel better because you know someone believes in you? Therapy dogs are just like that. Since their presence can improve moods, such as feelings of happiness, interacting with them further promotes cognitive engagement and mental stimulation. This is particularly helpful for individuals who have cognitive impairments like dementia. 

Engaging with therapy dogs, like grooming, playing games, or simply petting them, helps people with attention and memory and develop problem-solving skills. This is very helpful for both adults and children who are struggling with cognitive activities, experiencing shyness, or having social anxiety. With therapy dogs, individuals feel they have more courage and capacity to engage in activities they are often wary of.

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Physical Health Benefits 

Therapy dogs have the ability to motivate and inspire individuals during therapeutic activities. Their presence alone can prompt people to join in various activities that they would otherwise be hesitant to do, such as physical therapy routines, reading aloud, or engaging in conversations. This is especially advantageous for children, those with developmental disabilities, or individuals on the path to recovery from trauma.

Therapy dogs have been found to positively affect lowering blood pressure, improving cardiovascular health, reducing pain perception, improving motor skills, and increasing joint movement. Because of their encouraging presence, having therapy dogs in rehabilitation centers also boosts people’s morale to exercise more, which helps reduce stress and improve their overall physical health. 

Enhances Socialization

Some people have social anxiety or have difficulties interacting with others, especially those who have experienced trauma. Therapy dogs help facilitate social interactions and help individuals feel calm enough to overcome social barriers. Their cute, friendly, and calming presence encourages conversations and interactions among students, patients, and residents, promoting socialization and a sense of togetherness. 1B330EAE 6AB1 4533 95C7 4874A35D1E89

Provides a Sense of Normalcy

Having a therapy dog in places like rehabilitation centers, hospitals, and care facilities can help create a sense of comfort and normalcy. Their presence offers a good distraction from medical procedures, making patients feel more relaxed and at ease. Therapy dogs also help professionals who conduct therapy sessions like speech therapy and occupational therapy since people feel more comfortable and motivated with them. 

Bring Joy and Happiness

Of course, one of the simplest but most important benefits of having therapy dogs is the joy and happiness they bring people wherever they are. Their affectionate nature, happy faces, and wagging tails effectively brighten everyone’s days and provide an instant feeling of happiness. Therapy dogs are found to be very effective in improving the emotional wellbeing and overall mood of people 

Which Dogs Can Be Therapy Dogs?

Dog breeds like Labradors, Retrievers, St. Bernards, Poodles, and Pomeranians are among the common breeds used as therapy dogs. Crossbreeds like Bernedoodles, Labradoodles, and Goldendoodles are also great choices since they generally have friendly, intelligent, and sociable demeanors. 

However, any dog breed can be a therapy dog because it really depends on how the dog was raised and its temperament. This is why you will often see therapy dogs in various breeds and sizes since the determining factor is their character and whether they are able to pass the assessment. 

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How Can I Get a Therapy Dog? 

Therapy dogs often undergo obedience training from when they were still puppies. Teaching your puppy basic obedience commands early, such as sit, stay, lie down, and walk, is the first step in their training. It is also important that your dog is highly socialized so that they can stay relaxed and calm even when around a lot of people. Once your dog reaches its first year of age, you can register with a therapy dog organization, where you will go through the registration and assessment process.

If you are looking forward to getting your dog trained as a therapy dog, Happy Pup Manor offers therapy dog training for pups and dogs, and we continue to build and improve their basic obedience training. We introduce them to equipment they might encounter, such as walkers and wheelchairs, to make them more comfortable when seeing these. Of course, aside from the commands, we ensure that every dog preparing to become a therapy dog is trained in a warm and social environment to become accustomed to meeting many people. We ensure that each pup learns the right skills to help them provide all the love and support they will give many people in the future. 

Contact us to learn more about therapy dog training. We’d love to meet you and your pup soon! 


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