Therapy Dogs For Children

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Therapy Dogs for children


Therapy Dogs For Children are one of the most amazing, loving, and beautiful creatures out there.

These dogs are specially trained to interact with sick or injured children in hospitals, homes for mentally ill people, schools, and have an extremely calming effect on kids who need help dealing with their medical problems.

Therapy pets are also becoming more and more popular, as their benefits get more well known.

In fact, in 2021 alone, there are more than 50,000 therapy dogs in the United states alone (source).

More therapy dogs are also being utilized in hospital settings, due to the wonderful benefits they provide for patients, such as pain relief, and general mood improvements.

Thanks to the benefits they bring, there has been an increased demand for therapy dog volunteers too.

The effect is more pronounced in ICU settings too! (source)


This signifies a growing trend that therapy dogs are more in demand, and will continue to increase in the years ahead.


In our other article on therapy dogs, we talked about their general purpose and how they help people in general, but did you know that children respond to animal-assisted therapies extremely well? (source)


Why therapy dogs can be beneficial to kids


The main reason why therapy dogs are beneficial to children is because they know how to cheer up a sad child no matter what mood they're in.


Therapy dogs for children at the hospital


One of the first places to find therapy dogs would be in the hospitals - notably, in the children's section.

Therapy dogs in the children's wards are getting more and more popular, as the impact they have on kids would be near-miraculous.

Therapy pet sessions with sick children not only lifts their spirits, but also speeds up their recovery significantly.

The therapy dogs also turn the wards into a less scary place, and turn it into a place of healing and love - something that only a therapy dog can provide (source)

You'll also see a lot of vacancies for hospital dog volunteers, so if you and your dog are in a position to help, you'll create miracles in the healing of these young kids!


Dogs and autism therapy


This is especially the case for intellectual disability animal assisted therapy, where therapy dogs work with autistic children to calm them down, and to essentially act as a support for their development. (source)

Essentially, the link between therapy dogs and autism is one of positive interaction and improved mood and mental development.

Therapy dogs can even help children on the autism spectrum in dealing with their emotions and interacting with others, even in tough social situations that require them to handle their feelings.

Therapy dogs can help kids confront their feelings and express them to both the dog and his handler, which is a wonderful opportunity for them.


Therapy dogs for children at home


Having therapy dogs for children at home is also very beneficial!

For one, it'll help children understand the importance of responsibility, as training a therapy dog for your child is no easy feat.

Secondly, it will encourage your child to interact more with the dog, and you can teach your child to learn how to interact with all animals - with kindness and empathy.


Therapy dogs in the classroom


For other children, they also help with developing social skills, provide comfort to those who need it, and increase happiness of the household in general.


The same therapy dogs also suppresses negative environmental effects of children in the classroom such as anxiety.

Basically, they act as calming agents and provide comfort in new environments (especially when joining a new school or class) (source)


Therapy dogs and bullying


Therapy dogs also lower the incidence of bullying in classrooms, which can lead to higher social anxiety and depression among children.

Having a therapy dog around reduces aggressive activity around children, too.


In 2017, the Affínity Foundation, along with the Lleó XIII School in Barcelona, launched the "Respect Me" pilot program, which consists of animal-assisted education to combat bullying.

Maribel Villa, a technician at the foundation, referred to the benefits of the program in a 2018 press conference: "It increases self-esteem; students learn to tolerate frustration, redirect inappropriate behaviors, and work in a team: things that seem very simple but require effort."

Isabel Buil, Director of the Affinity Foundation, explained why dogs are so effective in the learning process to help strengthen the students' emotional and mental health, as well as preventing bullying.

Buil says that these dogs provide a safe way for children and young people to practice listening and express empathy without feeling judged. (source)


Conclusion


Therapy dogs are always a wonderful way to bring joy and comfort to those who need it most.

But with the number of children diagnosed with mental health disorders on the rise, these furry friends will become more important than ever as they provide valuable emotional support for kids struggling with depression, anxiety, or PTSD.

If you’re interested in starting your own therapy dog program at home or work - we have five golden rules that every owner should teach their dog if you want your pup to be a certified therapy animal!


about the author

Frank Harrigan

Frank loves tacos and dogs - the good, bad and ugly sides of dog ownership.


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