Therapy Dog

Therapy Dog Visits

Lightning the Dog

The Value of Therapy Dog Visits
 
Animals have long been recognized as a positive addition to the 

healing process.  In schools, visits from Therapy Dogs have shown an increased happiness, calmness, and overall emotional well-being.  Studies have shown a decrease in blood pressure and stress levels during Therapy Dog visits. Therapy Dogs provide a break from the daily routine of stress, anxiety, and aggressive behaviors for students, staff and visitors.  On a side note, the use of therapy animals in colleges and universities has just recently become popular. They are primarily used to reduce stress and depression in students studying particularly difficult curriculums, or studying for exams.

Four-footed therapists give something special to enhance the health and well-being of others. It has been clinically proven that through petting, touching, and talking with animals, students’ blood pressure is lowered, stress is relieved, and depression is eased.

Here are just some of the healing effects of therapy animal visits:
Mental Benefits
~Decrease in stress and anxiety, including that from post-traumatic stress      disorder (PTSD)
~Decrease in depression, loneliness and feelings of isolation
~Decrease in aggressive behaviors
~Increase in socialization with an outward focus, including opportunities for  laughter and a sense of happiness and well-being
~Increase in mental stimulation, attention skills, and verbal interactions
~Increase in spirit, self-esteem, and feeling of acceptance, enabling a  patient to further participate in mental and physical therapy, to be more i  involved in group activities, and to accept social and emotional support

Physical Benefits
~Decrease in blood pressure
~Decrease in heart rate
~Decrease in the stress hormone cortisol
~Increase in level of fitness by providing stimulus for exercise, with  improvement in activities in which they were limited
~Improvement in fine motor skills, standing balance, wheelchair and other  physical skills
 
One additional benefit for the school can be a “
Read-to-Dog” or “Tailwagging Tutors” program.  The main objective of this program is to provide a relaxed and “dog-friendly” atmosphere, which allows students to practice the skill of reading.
 
Students chosen for this program have difficulties reading and as a result have developed self-esteem issues. They are often self-conscious when reading aloud in front of other classmates.  In their wonderfully innocent way of thinking, children do not reason that there are others listening; they are simply reading to the dog. They are able to relax and concentrate on the task.

By sitting down next to a dog and reading to the dog, all threats of being judged are put aside.  Reading improves because the child is practicing the skill of reading, building self-esteem, and associating reading with something pleasant.  This could be a huge help to our struggling and/or special ed students here at Kennedy. 
 
Overall, therapy dogs serve as non-judgmental companions in the process of learning and development. They are used for everything from helping with lessons to teaching social skills and responsibility. They help students with emotional problems that interfere with school, including grief and personal crisis.

 

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