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Importance of Canine Therapy

Advantages and disadvantages of therapy dogs

By AlliPublished 8 months ago 6 min read
Importance of Canine Therapy
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Canine therapy is the process of using animals to assist with therapy. Dogs are trained to help rehabilitate and treat people with cognitive, emotional and physical shortcomings. The therapy has yielded positive results for decades and is used in a variety of fields such as rehabilitation medicine, psychiatry and psychology.

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Benefits and Uses Of Therapy dogs

A common form of canine therapy that is widely used is therapy dogs. These dogs are specifically taught and trained to provide comfort to individuals in hospitals, schools, nursing homes and other similar institutions. They also play the role of a companion to these individuals. The aim is to alleviate stress, depression and general anxiety by having these therapy dogs visit the patients in hospitals. Studies have also been conducted that indicate how interaction with these dogs can alleviate cortisol (a stress hormone) levels and also make individuals less anxious.

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It has also been shown that these dogs can reduce blood pressure and boost overall well-being on an emotional level. The dogs can make an individual feel less isolated and lonely and therefore give new meaning and purpose to their lives.

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These dogs also serve as a distraction that can help individuals to focus on more positive things and therefore take their mind of negative thoughts/feelings. They can serve as a welcome injection of joy and excitement.

Therapy dogs are also used in other environments for example educational environments to assist children with learning impairments or other cognitive disabilities. They can help these children to develop overall communication skills and social skills. These dogs can also provide the necessary therapy to children that have suffered from abuse or trauma so that they can feel more secure and comfortable.

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Therapy dogs are also trained to carry out certain tasks for people that are undergoing physical rehabilitation. They can for example assist with balance, retrieve a object or help with movement. It is also referred to as canine-assisted therapy and can help with the recuperation of individuals that had to undergo certain surgeries or suffered from certain injuries or illnesses. Therapy dogs can assist patients with specific physical and emotional conditions such as heart disease, chronic pain disorders and dementia. The dogs can therefore be utilized to ensure a more effective recovery process.

Service Dogs: Another Type Of Canine Therapy

A variation of canine therapy that is also used extensively is service dogs. These dogs are trained in such a way that they are able to assist disabled people with carrying out certain tasks. These tasks include:

  • Providing guidance to blind people/people with visual impairments
  • Alerting individuals that have hearing difficulties
  • Providing assistance to people that have movement issues

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Service dogs can thus play a critical role in making these individuals more independent and improving their everyday living standard.

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Disadvantages Of Canine Therapy

There are certain disadvantages of canine therapy:

  1. Risk of allergies or fear of dogs: Certain people may experience allergies to dogs or is afraid of them. They will therefore be unable to make use of canine therapy. This will reduce the extent of people that can utilize the benefits of this form of treatment.
  2. Risk of possible injury: Though it can be considered rare, there is a small change of a bite/scratch and therefore an injury from one of these dogs. This risk can be reduced by making sure that the dog is adequately trained and fully socialized. There should also be proper supervision while therapy is conducted.
  3. It can be difficult to find an adequately trained therapy dog that also has the necessary certification. This can limit the number of therapy dogs that are available for those people who really need them.
  4. Therapy dogs may not be a viable option for certain people: People that for example have certain behavioral problems may not be a good fit for therapy dogs. Someone that has aggression problems or that has an extreme anxiety disorder may not be able to cooperate with therapy dogs. These people may be a threat to the safety and well-being of the dogs themselves.
  5. Cost limitations: The cost of training a dog to be used as a therapy dog and to acquire the necessary certification can be significant. This can create a barrier for many people and institutions.

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Although canine therapy has largely been effective in significant number of cases, it should be remembered that not every dog can be trained to do therapy-related work. The therapy should always be performed by dogs that was fully trained and dogs that have obtained the necessary certification. These dogs also need to comply with certain criteria such as:

  • Having a friendly and calm personality
  • The dogs must be comfortable with other animals and people
  • Aggression of the dogs should also be at an acceptable level. Thus the dogs needs to be monitored extensively beforehand in order to make an informative judgement on the level of aggression that may be present

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In conclusion, canine therapy can be used to treat and help people with emotional, mental and physical disabilities. These dogs can also be used to reduce stress, depression and anxiety levels of patients in hospitals. They can be a solution for individuals that experience loneliness and isolation and therefore give these people new meaning in live. These dogs bring joy and excitement and provide a distraction from negative thoughts. Children with learning disabilities can benefit from therapy dogs as these dogs can assist with the development of communication and social skills.

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These dogs can also contribute to abuse therapy or trauma therapy. The process of physical rehabilitation can also be easier with the help of these dogs. Service dogs can help physically impaired people to carry out certain tasks for example guiding individuals with visual impairments. Canine therapy does however have certain disadvantages that need to be considered. Some of these disadvantages include the possible risk of allergies/injuries as well as being very costly.

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This therapy may also not be suitable for certain individuals, especially individuals with anger or aggression issues. It can also be difficult to locate a dog that meets the required training requirements and certification requirements.

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