Frequently Asked Questions About Therapy Dogs

In recent times, using therapy dogs has been a way to provide rehabilitation to different kinds of patients. When school shootings happened in America, therapy dogs were used to get students back into class and alleviate their anxiety by going to school.

Because of the effectiveness of having therapy dogs around regarding relieving tension and stress, numerous colleges opted to have regular therapy dogs on campus.

As students go through academic stress and all the other adjustments they have to make to get accustomed to university life, therapy dogs have proven to provide a space for calmness.

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When life gets tough and its seasons become stormy, we may need a dose of sunshine. A great way to get that golden ray of sun is through head-patting your local Goldie. Animals can provide unconditional support and affection.

For thousands of years, people have sought out companionship from furry friends. Pictures of cute animals have been shown to induce happy and joyous feelings within us.

As highly visual beings, visual cues affect our moods. The constant smile receiving belly rubs can provide that sense of safety and affection patients healing from trauma may need.

For more information, here are the frequently asked questions about therapy dogs:

What are the best therapy dogs?

Therapy dogs have to be mature enough to comfort their owners, so the breed is not much of an issue. As long as they learn how to be obedient and supportive, any dog can be a therapy dog. If you already have a dog of your own, you can also train them per your doctor’s instructions.

How do I train my dog to be a therapy dog?

You first have to train your dog to follow commands. Then, you have to help them develop social and communication skills. This way, they can read social cues and learn when you need comfort and affection. You can also train your dog more easily by enrolling him in AKC training classes.

What is a therapy dog used for?

Therapy dogs provide comfort and support for people experiencing anxiety, depression, and other mental health illnesses. You will find therapy dogs in nursing homes, hospitals, retirement homes, and stressful places such as colleges and libraries.

What is the best therapy dog for depression?

While there are no specific breeds for battling depression, studies show how hunting dogs help reduce cardiovascular disease risks. Thus, golden and Labrador retrievers make excellent therapy dogs. They’re friendly, energetic, affectionate, and are trained easily.

They also love playing outdoors, which means they can help you get back to physical activities and socializing with others.

Can I train my dog myself?

Yes, you can train a dog yourself. You can start by teaching your dog the basic commands such as sit, stay, or down, among others. You can also further train your dog by building your chemistry with them through verbal and non-verbal cues.

Your dogs should learn how to stay calm when needed, especially during your check-ups. After sufficient training, you can ask your mental health provider for an ESA letter.

How long does it take to train a therapy dog?

Training for therapy dogs usually lasts a year and is much shorter than service dog training. However, the duration also depends on the dog’s personality and previous history.

The training requires them to learn how to read social cues, initiate and engage in activities, and cope with stressful situations.

How can I certify my dog as a therapy dog online?

You can get an ESA letter from therapists or doctors familiar with the Emotional Support Animal (ESA) Law. You can easily search for telehealth services through referrals and ESA doctors.

Just be careful of online platforms claiming “instant approval” as other states do not recognize some of their certifications.

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Do Therapy Dogs actually work?

According to studies, therapy dogs increase happy hormones while decreasing stress hormones. With their destressing effect, they also minimize cardiovascular disease risks by lowering blood pressure.

They also provide companionship, thus helping reduce loneliness in patients. If you have anxiety, depression, stress, or PTSD, your doctor may prescribe you this therapy.

Do Therapy dogs help with anxiety?

Yes, therapy dogs can help with anxiety. They help lift your mood whenever you’re down. Therapy dogs will also offer themselves for petting to help you ease your mind. With these simple acts, they can help regulate your thoughts and emotions.

Therapy dogs with service training can also help by bringing your phone or medication during panic attacks.

Can dogs sense anxiety?

Dogs are known to sense anxiety and stress. They can observe mood changes early on and comfort you before your situation escalates to a panic attack. Dogs are also known to share your feelings of stress and anxiety when exposed to such emotions chronically.

Do dogs remember people?

Dogs remember people, although not in the same way human memory works. Dogs are known to have a short-term memory, but they do have an impressive associative memory. This fact means they associate certain moments with people and feelings.

They may not know who you are precisely, but they know they love and care for you.

How do you calm a stressed dog?

You can calm down a stressed dog the same way you keep yourself relaxed. You can walk them around and engage them in physical activities. A simple touch or stroke will also help them calm down.

Music, massage, and snuggly blankets are also known to tone down their stress and anxiety.

What is the difference between a service dog and a therapy dog?

A service dog is for people with disabilities, while therapy dogs are for anyone in need of emotional support.

Service dogs are trained more extensively to help blind people walk and find things. They can also help mentally ill patients by bringing them medication or assisting them in doing their tasks.

Oppositely, therapy dogs mainly provide comfort and support by keeping you calm or accompanying you during a panic attack. Therapy dogs also have fewer privileges and pass to restaurants and malls as compared to service dogs.

How do I train my dog to be an emotional support dog?

You can train your dog to become an emotional support animal through the AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC) program. Many dog therapy organizations require this program. However, you still need to obtain an ESA letter before your dog can be considered an emotional support dog.

If you’re training a dog yourself, make sure they can provide comfort and follow specific instructions. You can instill these skills by regularly teaching your dog thrice a day with 10-15 minutes per session.

How do I find a legitimate emotional support animal?

You can train your pet to become an ESA, or you can find a therapy animal through referrals. There is no emotional support registry for animals in the US. But you can find a therapy animal with the help of ESA doctors and therapists. Approach a licensed mental health professional who is knowledgeable about ESA laws to get an ESA letter.

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Therapy dogs are specially trained in handling all sorts of environments and people. These dogs may live in people’s homes or different settings such as schools, retirement homes, hospices, and hospitals.

As the demand for counselors goes up, therapy dogs have been an excellent way to provide an alternative to talking therapy. Pet therapy has proven itself more effective than talk therapy. It works well with children who have difficulties talking to adults and children with autism.

Given the training these dogs have, they have the patience and calmness to handle the tugging and hugging of patients.

It is possible to have your therapy dog through adoption or by training your dog. All you need is proper training and certification for your pet.

As we go through the ups and downs of life, it is good to have a safe space to rest and find comfort. Dogs are already great sources of happiness by themselves. However, finding the best pet to meet emotional needs is essential for those who may be less predisposed to handling stress.

A therapy dog is a good match for those who seek comfort, support, and good vibes.