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CANINE ASSISTED THERAPY, THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW

CANINE ASSISTED THERAPY, THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW

 

Dogs love you more than you love yourself

Dogs are lovable and loyal creatures. They are commonly kept pet animals and tend to easily create bonds with human beings. Since their domestication more than 30,000 years ago, dogs have played a brilliant role in the evolution of mankind. In addition to that, dogs have assisted humans with so many tasks including herding, hunting, and protection.

 

In the current era, psychological troubles such as anxiety, depression are increasing in humans. To cope with these complicated conditions, dogs are being widely used in psychotherapy processes.

 

Here we will discuss some important things regarding dog-assisted human therapy under the light of scientific literature.

 

WHAT IS ANIMAL ASSISTED PSYCHOTHERAPY?

 

No matter how you are feeling, a little dog gonna love you


Animal-assisted psychotherapy refers to the use of animals in treating a number of psychological ailments in humans. Basically, in such interventions human-animal bond/interaction is manipulated to give positive mental (psychological) and physical benefits to human beings.


AAP is a vast subject matter, in which a wide range of animals is used. Properly trained dogs and horses are commonly used animals in these procedures.


DOGS ARE COMMONLY USED IN ANIMAL-ASSISTED THERAPY


On the other hand, canine/dog assisted-psychotherapy is specifically related to the use of well-trained dogs in therapeutics.


According to American Veterinary Medical Association, animal-assisted therapy supports the mental health of human beings, improves the person’s quality of life, and keeps humans motivated.

 

BENEFITS OF CANINE ASSISTED PSYCHOTHERAPY

There are many mental and physical benefits that can be acquired with the help of canine-assisted therapy. Some important benefits have been enlisted below:


1) Interaction with dogs reduces stress and anxiety.

 

2) Significant amount of good hormones such as serotonin, oxytocin, prolactin release in the human body, which have positive effects on human mood.

 

3) Interaction with dogs decreases the sense of being loner and boosts up self-esteem, trust, and patience.


4) It has a valuable impact on reducing rage, aggression, and hostility.

 

5) This therapy improves the sense of being socialized (helps humans in building strong social interactions) and stimulates the mind (aids in recapping the past memories and also helps patients with head injuries or chronic mental diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease.


6) It also helps in improving cardiac health and lowering blood pressure. Moreover, this therapy has a lot of beneficial impacts on restoring the children with autism (helps them in developing better social interactions.


7) This therapy reduces the relay of patients on medications.

 

PROTOCOL

Dog-assisted therapy is carried out by well-trained dogs only under the supervision of experts. Type of therapy depends upon the need of the person undergoing it. Simply, in this procedure, highly trained dogs show mind soothing and welcoming behavior to the client.


Through the interaction and body contact with the dog (dogs used in the therapy must have cool temperament and be able to engage easily with the unknown persons), positive changes establish in the patients such as building up trust in others, drastic improvement in the motor skills, etc.


Moreover, therapy dogs aid in reducing stress and several other complicated conditions such as dementia (memory issues), post-traumatic stress disorder (stress due to any big loss/accident), autism spectrum disorder, etc. That’s why, dog-assisted therapy is considered the awesome replacement of conventional therapies used to diagnose and treat these conditions.

 

IS DOG ASSISTED THERAPY SUITABLE FOR ALL AGES?

Yes, this has been documented that people of any age can get benefit from canine-assisted therapy under professional settings. For instance, with the help of therapy dogs, general life skills, writing skills, encouragement to work in teams can be promoted in children.


In addition to that, children with low confidence (unable to express their emotional or physical needs) can also get a lot of benefits from this therapy. This therapy helps in sharpening their quality traits such as acceptance, assertiveness and responsibility.


In elderly people, this therapy reminds them of the feeling of love, sympathy and care especially in those who used to have dogs in their past but can’t take care of their own animals anymore.


Researchers also threw light on the positive emotional progress in the hospitalized patients with severe cardiac, anxiety and other psychological issues. Highly trained dog was allowed to lie on the patient’s bed (so that the patient could touch the dog and interact with it).


After a few minutes of this interaction various blood parameters were monitored by the team of health specialists. It was found that patients showed positive responses to the interaction with dogs and lower levels of stress hormones (epinephrine & nor-epinephrine) were found in the blood.


It was concluded that dog exposure gives a lot of psychological and physical benefits to sick patients but still there is a great need to make research in this particular area to reveal more facts.

 

IMPORTANT CONSIDERATIONS

Along with a number of health benefits of canine assisted therapy, it possesses a few potential drawbacks as well. Some people show allergic responses to dogs, so this type of intervention can make their situation more complicated. This is always better to get recommendations/suggestions from a registered medical practitioner/animal assisted therapy expert. So, this is mandatory to carry out such interventions only under highly professional settings.

 

 

 

REFERENCES

Martin, F., & Farnum, J. (2002). Animal-assisted therapy for children with pervasive developmental disorders. Western Journal of Nursing Research, 24(6), 657-670

Banks, M. R., & Banks, W. A. (2002). The effects of animal-assisted therapy on loneliness in an elderly population in long-term care facilities. The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, 57(7), M428-M432

Schuck SE, Emmerson NA, Fine AH, Lakes KD. Canine-assisted therapy for children with ADHD: Preliminary findings from The Positive Assertive Cooperative Kids Study. Journal of Attention Disorders. 2015;19(2):125–137

Hamama L, Hamama-Raz Y, Dagan K, Greenfeld H, Rubinstein C, Ben-Ezra M. A preliminary study of group intervention along with basic canine training among traumatized teenagers: A 3-month longitudinal study. Children and Youth Services Review. 2011;33(10):1975–80

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