Ask any pet owner and they will immediately tell you how much comfort and support they receive from their animal. Just the action of stroking your pet can provide you with lots of comfort. It is widely known that pets can help reduce stress and loneliness.
For those individuals who cannot own a pet then there are pet therapy centers springing up around the country. These therapy centers test dogs and owners who have to become certified to work as a therapy dog. Once successfully trained they are able to visit nursing homes, retirement homes, hospitals and schools.
To become a therapy dog the dog must be friendly, patient, gentle and confident in all types of situations. Above all they must enjoy human contact and like being petted and handled.
The primary job of a therapy dog is to allow strangers to pet and interact with them. They must allow children to come up and hug them and still be gentle around them. With seniors they must recognize that they cannot jump or climb up on them.
Therapy dogs can have a huge impact on a person’s life. The patient enjoys talking, hugging or even taking the dog for a walk. They feel as though they actually own the dog for a few hours. After the visit the majority of patients smile and talk more. They will become active in more activities and they eat and sleep better.
There are many breeds of dogs which are used for dog therapy. Some of the more common ones that you see are Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers. These breeds are gentle by nature and love meeting and greeting people.
Some nursing homes will allow you to bring your family dog when visiting an elderly parent or grandparent. Bringing your dog along helps make your visit more sociable and enjoyable for everyone involved.
For sick children or for those living in foster homes a visit from a furry friend is a great comfort to them. Children just love to hug and hold a pet. Many children will open up and start talking to a dog as though they are their best friend. This can prove to be extremely helpful.
In other situations a visit from a happy dog allows a sick child to forget about their illness for a while. They can focus on the dog and imagine what it would be like to have their own special dog waiting for them at home.
Watch this amazingly touching and inspiring video on pet therapy.