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Canine Therapy: Everything about Assisted Therapy with Dogs

Assisted Therapy for Seniors with Animals

Within dog therapies, we find canine therapy: a form of assisted therapy with dogs aimed at individuals and children with autism, Asperger’s, functional diversity, and cases of depression. Taking advantage of today, July 26, being Grandparents Day, we will talk about assisted therapies with dogs and the benefits they have on people, especially the elderly. While we have already discussed on our blog the great benefits of pets for the well-being of seniors, today we will focus on the therapies that are used.

Benefits of Dog Therapies

Canine therapy, also known as assisted therapy with dogs, is a form of treatment that uses interaction between humans and dogs to improve people’s quality of life. This therapy has been used for many years in different contexts, such as hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and schools. Dogs are especially suitable for this type of therapy due to their friendly nature and ability to establish emotional connections with people.

The benefits of canine therapy are numerous. Firstly, this therapy can help reduce stress and anxiety in individuals. The presence of a friendly and affectionate dog can create a relaxing and comforting environment, which can have a positive impact on the patient’s emotional state. Additionally, interacting with a dog during a canine therapy session can stimulate the release of endorphins in the human body, helping improve mood and promoting an overall sense of well-being. Another significant benefit of canine therapy is its ability to encourage physical and cognitive development in children with disabilities or developmental delays.

In summary, canine therapy is an effective form of treatment that utilizes interaction between humans and dogs to improve people’s quality of life. The benefits of this therapy include stress and anxiety reduction, promotion of physical and cognitive development, as well as the enhancement of social skills.

Definition of Assisted Therapy with Dogs

Assisted therapy with dogs is a form of therapeutic intervention that uses the interaction between dogs and people to promote emotional, physical, and social well-being. This treatment modality is based on the special bond established between humans and dogs, leveraging the unique qualities of these animals to improve people’s quality of life. In assisted therapy with dogs, specially trained dogs work in collaboration with healthcare professionals, such as psychologists, occupational therapists, or physiotherapists. These multidisciplinary teams design personalized programs for individuals or groups, adapting to their specific needs. During sessions, participants interact with dogs through structured or spontaneous activities, allowing them to develop social, emotional, and cognitive skills. The benefits of assisted therapy with dogs are diverse and cover different areas. Emotionally, this intervention can help reduce stress and anxiety, improve mood, and boost self-esteem. Physically, working alongside a dog can stimulate bodily movement and increase muscle strength. Additionally, this therapeutic modality promotes the development of verbal and non-verbal language, as well as cognitive skills such as attention and concentration. In summary, we can affirm that assisted therapy with dogs is an effective therapeutic tool that uses interaction with trained dogs to promote people’s well-being. This treatment modality offers emotional, physical, and cognitive benefits, improving the quality of life for those participating in it. Assisted therapy with dogs is an increasingly recognized and used option in different contexts, such as hospitals, educational institutions, or nursing homes, demonstrating its effectiveness in various populations and issues.

Animal-Assisted Therapy in Day Centers

The MAIKAI team had the opportunity to visit the STIMA senior center, where we observed how they implement animal-assisted therapies for seniors. In the following video, you can learn more about them:

Dog Breeds for Dog Therapies

There are various dog breeds that are particularly suitable for carrying out assisted therapies. These canines are characterized by their friendly temperament, ability to emotionally connect with people, and ease of adapting to different environments.

grandfather hugging golden retriever

Golden Retriever

One of the most used breeds in this type of therapy. These dogs are known for being affectionate, patient, and very intelligent, making them ideal companions for working with individuals who need emotional or physical support.

Labrador Retriever

These dogs are highly sociable, playful, and obedient, making them excellent companions for both children and adults. Their positive energy and learning ability make them ideal for helping improve people’s quality of life through physical or emotional activities.

Border Collie

It also stands out as a suitable breed for assisted therapy. These dogs are extremely intelligent, agile, and hardworking. They can quickly learn specific tasks and have a strong sense of duty towards their human caregivers Their active nature and protective instinct make them perfect companions in therapeutic programs aimed at improving cognitive or motor skills.

In summary, the mentioned breeds are just a few examples within the broad range of options available when choosing a suitable dog for assisted therapies. Each breed has its own characteristics and strengths, so it is important to carefully assess the needs of each individual before selecting the ideal canine companion. In any case, dogs used in assisted therapies provide invaluable emotional support and significantly contribute to the well-being of those participating in these programs.

Canine Therapy Activities

Canine therapy activities are an effective and beneficial form of therapy that involves both dogs and participants and facilitators. These activities take place in different environments, such as hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and schools, with the aim of improving people’s quality of life.

One of the main activities in canine therapy is dog walking. This activity provides an opportunity for people to interact with dogs while engaging in physical exercise. Walks can take place in parks or outdoor areas, allowing participants to enjoy direct contact with nature while benefiting from the emotional and physical support provided by the dogs.

Another common activity in canine therapy is interactive play. This involves simple but fun games between participants and dogs, such as throwing balls or playing fetch. These games not only promote physical movement but also encourage social interaction and improve cognitive skills.

Dog-assisted therapy is an increasingly popular option for those seeking alternative treatments based on the unconditional love and emotional support that only our furry friends can provide.

Dog-Assisted Therapies Increase Mood

Dog therapies are an excellent option for improving people’s mood. Dogs, known as man’s best friends, have the ability to provide companionship and unconditional affection, which can have a positive impact on our emotional well-being.

Studies have shown that interacting with dogs can increase levels of happiness-related hormones, such as oxytocin and serotonin. In addition, petting a dog releases endorphins in our body, making us feel good and reducing stress. n addition to the positive chemical effect they have on our brains, dogs can also help distract us and take us away from our everyday problems. When we are interacting with a dog during therapy, our attention is focused on them and their friendly behavior. This allows us to momentarily forget our concerns and focus on something more positive.

Dogs trained for therapy can detect subtle changes in a person’s mood and respond appropriately, offering comfort and companionship when needed most. Interacting with dogs during therapies can help reduce anxiety, stress, and depression.

Dogs Can Contribute to Improving Negative Behaviors Dogs can be beneficial in improving negative behaviors in people. For example, those who have issues with aggression or impulsivity can learn better self-control by interacting with a trained dog. The patience required to teach basic commands to the animal can be transferred to the human individual, thus fostering positive social skills such as respect for others and empathy.

Contributes to Better Socialization

Dog therapies are an effective tool for contributing to better socialization in people. These therapies have been successfully used in various contexts, such as schools, hospitals, and rehabilitation centers. Dogs are friendly and sociable animals by nature, making them ideal companions for fostering social interaction.

When people participate in dog therapies, they have the opportunity to establish emotional bonds with these animals. This can help them overcome shyness or social anxiety when interacting with other humans. Dogs act as social facilitators, as their relaxing and friendly presence creates a safe and comfortable environment for people.

Furthermore, dog therapies also promote teamwork and effective communication. During these sessions, group activities requiring cooperation among participants are carried out. This allows them to develop important social skills, such as active listening, expressing ideas, and respecting different perspectives.

Elderly person hugging a therapy dog

What are Therapeutic Animals?

Therapeutic animals are those used in therapies and treatments to improve the physical, emotional, and mental health of individuals. These animals, such as dogs or horses, have the ability to generate well-being and help reduce stress, anxiety, and other health issues.

What Does an Emotional Support Dog Do?

An emotional support dog provides support and comfort to individuals with emotional or mental disabilities. It helps alleviate stress, anxiety, and other symptoms by providing constant companionship and unconditional love. Their presence can improve mood and promote a sense of well-being in their owner.

How Do Emotional Support Dogs Work?

Emotional support dogs work by providing companionship and comfort to individuals experiencing emotional or mental issues. These dogs are trained to detect changes in mood and offer emotional support to their owners. Their presence can help reduce anxiety, improve mood, and provide a sense of calm and security.

Other Assisted Therapies with Animals

There are different types of animal-assisted therapy, such as dog-assisted therapy, horse-assisted therapy, dolphin-assisted therapy, and cat-assisted therapy. These therapies are used to improve the emotional and physical well-being of individuals, providing support and companionship through interaction with animals.