Dogs are a popular pet. They’re loving and loyal, so it comes as no surprise that they’re considered a man’s best friend. But can dogs also be good for your health? Read all about therapy dogs and the benefits they bring below.
How can therapy dogs help?
According to PawsForPeople.org, they can. There have been studies that show that pet therapy can help with physical and mental health as well as with physical therapy and reading. The physical health benefits include lowered blood pressure, improved cardiovascular health, and the release of endorphins (oxytocin) that have a calming effect. In terms of mental health benefits, therapy pets lift spirits and lessen depression, decrease feelings of isolation, encourage communication, provide comfort, lower anxiety, and increase socialization. Therapy pets help children overcome speech and emotional disorders and, in terms of reading, they can help children to focus, provide a non-stressful, non-judgmental environment, and increase self-confidence, reducing self-consciousness. MayoClinic.org also discusses the benefits of therapy pets, noting that animal-assisted therapy can reduce pain, anxiety, depression, and fatigue in various patients with various health issues. For example, children having dental procedures, cancer treatment patients, those in long-term care facilities, and veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder can all find the benefits of therapy pets. Many post-secondary institutions think that therapy dogs are helpful for mental health, with Dog De-Stress days being offered close to exam periods.
What is Therapeutic Paws of Canada?
Therapeutic Paws of Canada is a not-for-profit organization that runs a variety of programs with therapy dogs and cats. They have senior programs, child programs, and a Paws Room program. The latter provides therapy dog visits to universities and colleges during exam periods. These programs are also typically provided at hospitals, seniors residences, nursing homes, schools and libraries. Therapeutic Paws of Canada is not a training program; they work with volunteers and their family pets to provide visits.
Therapeutic Paws of Canada provides their programs at no cost, but they are not available for home visits. They have communities across Canada, each with their own team leader, providing therapy pet visits all around the country. Toronto has eight different team leaders, each providing services in a different part of Toronto. Danforth falls under the East York/Beaches area.
What should you do if you want your dog to become a therapy dog?
Therapeutic Paws of Canada evaluates and certifies your family pet before they are approved to go on therapy visits. There’s no special training needed for your pet to be eligible, but they do need to show that they have a good temperament, confidence, good manners, and sociability with other pets and people. More information about volunteering with Therapeutic Paws of Canada can be found on their website.
Photo courtesy of llipkind via pixabay.com
Monika is the Marketing Director/Social Media for On the Danforth, summer issue. When she isn’t buried in a book, she spends most her time checking out various events in Toronto and turning her life into article pitches. You can check out her twitter here.