There are so many reasons why Fido is considered man’s best friend- no one will ever be happier to see you when you walk through the front door every day, or listen to you for hours on end without a complaint. There’s no doubt that dogs help contribute to better health, which we highlighted in this article. Therapy and service dogs in particular play a special role in society, helping their owners function daily and make life easier for them.
Here are the Top 10 from Health Fitness Revolution and author of the book ReSYNC Your Life Samir Becic:
- Helps people overcome speech disorders: People with dysarthria lack muscle coordination in speech movement. Therapy dogs can help with this by increasing the attention span and improving coordination.
- Anxiety relief: Therapy dogs can help patients suffering from disorders such as anxiety, severe disruptive behavioral disorder, ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), and ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder). Studies have shown that when we touch dogs, it has a healing power because hormones like dopamine and beta-endorphin are released.
- Aid with dementia: Often if the elderly develop dementia, therapy dogs are able to provide aid by assisting with simple tasks. These tasks include such things as retrieving items, walking with the those afflicted, and by providing support for those in their care mentally and physically.
- Encourage communication: Dogs have a wonderful way of connecting with people by putting them at ease. Dogs can sense human vocalization and gestures. It’s been shown that people who have difficulty communicating often find it easier to do so with a dog, due to their ability to listen but not respond or criticize.
- Help with autistic children: Dogs give something to talk about between autistic children and their parents. They provide a non-judgemental medium to communicate and have a common area of interest while also allowing them to benefit from the aforementioned ability to encourage communication.
- Physiological benefits: Therapy dogs can reduce blood pressure and help the patient relax in a more comfortable setting. A dog’s sense of touch can automatically send a positive receptor, such as a warm sensation between the human and animal. This is a rewarding way to calm the patient who may suffer from anxiety.
- Helps around household: Therapy dogs are certified trained to retrieve medication for the patient, answer the doorbell, and to respond quickly to a smoke detector if the patient is unresponsive. These dogs are called animal- assisted therapy trained dogs
- Promotes socializing: A study by Harvard shows that dogs are not only good companions themselves, they can also help create human-to-human friendships and social support, both of which are good for long-term health. People with dogs are 60% more likely to meet new people!
- Different types of therapy dogs to fit various needs: With each patient, there’s a different type of therapy dog trained to be suited for the different needs of that person. The first is the “Therapeutic Visitation” dog, these are regular dogs who are taken by their owners to Rehabilitation clinics, retirement homes and hospitals. The Next type is the “Animal Assisted Therapy” dog which helps its people in rehabilitation clinics reacquire their fine motor skills. Finally is the “Facility Therapy” dog who is tasked with helping seniors and dementia patients.
- Promote exercise: Having a therapy dog can increase your willingness to exercise and improve your motor skills. It is healthy for both the owner and/or patient and dog to take frequent walks, which enables you to go out and enjoy the fresh air and reap the benefits of communing in nature and those associated with exercise.