Therapy dogs are always close by with their owners to accompany them in places like hospitals, schools, even nursing homes. They make people’s lives a whole lot easier! From being there for a kid to visiting an elderly in an assisted living, they are trained to be excellent in that aspect.
One of the therapy dog’s job is animal-assisted interaction. It refers to different types of therapy teams such as animal-assisted activities or visitation and animal-assisted therapy and others.
Animal-assisted activities or visitation are visits that are provided by a therapy animal team to people that are not measured by professional for example a teacher or a social worker, others. Animal-assisted therapy involves bond between human and animal in the process. A professional that specializes in animal and human bond will be there to facilitate the interaction.
However, some people get therapy dogs confused with service dogs. Therapy dogs and service dogs are different. Service dogs are dogs trained specially in aiding people with physical disability.
Personal Assistance Therapy or PAT introduces the benefits of service animals to clients such as patients with disabilities. These dogs can give their owners privileges in public place such airplanes and more. It is essential not to pet the service dogs as it may hinder them from doing their job correctly.
However, therapy dogs have a different role. Their task is to give their handlers physiological or psychological therapy. This also means that it is allowed to pet them. Therapy dogs are trained to be friendly and easy-going and are encouraged to interact with different people.
Everyone can train therapy dogs. However, there are standard to be met and registered to train your dog into a therapy dog and have it be committed to the program. There are also cases that professional trainers handle therapies dog.
There are also emotional support dogs. They provide so many things that could greatly benefit the owner such as comfort, companionship, emotional support and more benefits. However, emotional support dog does not have access to public areas.
Most people can’t help but smile when a therapy dog or any regular cute furry pal is coming his/ her way. Having therapy dogs can offer tons of benefits for its human friend in aspects like physically, mentally and emotionally.
Therapy dogs are also beneficial regarding recovery from very traumatic experiences such as for veterans, disaster areas, and people with disabilities or disorders. Emotionally, therapy dogs can lessen boredom, reduce loneliness, create motivation to help the patient speed up the recovery rate, may improve their humans talk more, lower the owner’s feeling of isolation and alienation and many others.
Physical benefits you could get from therapy dogs are an improvement of cardiovascular health and lowering of blood pressure and overall physical pain. It is also believed that petting a therapy dog may produce an automatic response that may stimulate relaxation because your brain releases endorphins such as oxytocin and may reduce the amount of medication required for a client.
Therapy dogs help children in many ways such as lowering self-consciousness, so it increases the kid’s self-confidence, provides a better environment, may encourage them to read more and may teach him/ her to focus better.
A therapy dog is also present in physical therapy. They improve and increase joint movement, recovery tie, and motor skills, and may motivate to be eager to more exercise longer and stretch farther.
Qualify for getting a therapy dog
To acquire a therapy dog and you have an emotional disability, you can legally obtain an emotional support animal. However, you have to be certified by a therapy, psychiatrist, a psychologist, or other licensed health professionals that specialize in mental studies.
Being certified for having an emotional support animal must be formal and should have an appropriate formatted letter. Make sure that you have a correct professional to write a touching animal support letter for you.
In the message, a mental professional’s letterhead, his or her license type, date of the license, license number, the place where his or license is issued, and the date of when the letter was written should be included. With this letter, you can take your dog with you in the airplane or our apartment without any added or extra fees.
To become an emotional support animal owner, there are some disorders agreed by DSM-IV or Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Such disorders are bipolar disorder, gender identity, tic disorder, mental retardation, sexual disorder, ADD or Attention deficit disorder, learning disorders, gender identity, a substance-related disorder such as alcohol, drugs and cognitive disorders.
If you find maintaining relationships hard, you feel anxious, develop paranoia or irrational fears, and if you think it is difficult to interact with other people, it will be easy for you to qualify for a therapy dog after finishing a free assessment form found on the internet.
However, if you don’t have a personal doctor or any practitioner; or your doctor refuses to prescribe you and therapy dog, you can try to evaluate if you qualify for a letter by using the form or clicking on the green “Free ESA Assessment” Button. If you are qualified, you will get a letter within the day.
Look for certified organizations or institutions
Having a disability should not hold you back from experiencing life to its fullest. Different programs will help you be the best version of yourself. There are tons of organizations that have focused on improving people with visual impairments such as Southern Guide Dogs, Leader dogs for the blind, The Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation, The Guide Dog Foundation, Guide Dogs for the Blind, Guide Dogs of America and any other organizations that offer many excellent services.
Guide Dogs of America gives an informative guide for dogs and training on how to handle for visually impaired or blind clients all over the United States and Canada for free. They also provide the opportunity for trainers and dogs to work and train to support people in their lives.
Also, dogs who complete the program, or the ones who finish the remaining with their dogs will be receiving on-going support from the graduate services team.
The Guide Dog Foundation has been working with guide dogs to aid the blind since as early as 1946. Usually the organization train dog breeds such as Golden Retrievers, Labradors or mixed breed of both breeds. Fortunately, they can offer training to handlers comprehensively that will not affect your budget at all!
Guide Dogs for the Blind gives two-week training for handlers that include transportation to and from the place where the organization offers to train. They also provide assistance program in financial aspect to help fund the care from your dog may need throughout its lifetime.
The Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation has been focusing on helping with lousy sight impediments as early as 1960. The foundation has been working with dog breed such as German shepherd. These furry creatures are eager to go through hard training so that they will have to set of skills to help someone with plenty of visual impairments through everyday situations.
Leader Dogs for the Blind will be glad to perfectly match both the trained companion with a client with disabilities such as visual, auditory, or both that will fit his/ her lifestyle for free. They are happy to provide training for applicants that they find fit and its new found companion. This will find excellent ways to communicate and work together before they go home.
Most of the time when brave soldiers would return home from war, most likely they get affected physically or mentally, even both. There are a lot of ways that have been found to cope with PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder.
A lot of organizations or foundations have been advocating their efforts on helping these soldiers. Therapy dogs have been introduced to veterans hoping it could make it easier for them to return generally to society slowly.
Some useful programs are available to help veterans such as Warrior Canine Connection, Angel Canines for Wounded, Puppies Behind Bars, America’s VetDogs and others.
Puppies Behind Bars is a smart program that lets prison inmates take care of a tiny furry puppy. These prison inmates get specialized training about raising these furry pals. Once these pups mature, and once their training is complete, they are then permanently given to veterans in need of their help and companionship.
America’s Vetdogs offers assistance widely from physical disabilities to post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD to veterans. They will gladly provide trained dogs to medical centers where they are recovering and healing from injuries. These dogs could also assist in improving physically and emotionally.
Warrior Canine Connection has a signature method of their therapy where they extend their arms to soldiers who were recently from war and slowly reintroduce them back to normality and also adjusting back home. Veterans train these dogs and then offered to vets with disabilities.
Unfortunately, not all people with disabilities can dig into their pockets and sadly couldn’t reach the financial requirement. Luckily, some organizations offer or partial financial aid for the help of a therapy dog. Some provide needs that can be specific such as for the deaf or for the clients that use a wheelchair.
Some societies can offer clients more resources such as the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. There are groups whose goal is to improve the everyday lives of people with disabilities such as The Assistance Dog United Campaign or ADUC, The Service Dogs for America/ Great Plains Assistance Dogs Foundation Inc., Paws with a Cause, Summit Assistance Dogs and other honorable groups that help for no cost.
Pick the therapy dog that is more suited to you
There is a lot of therapy dogs excited to help you make your life much more comfortable. However, looking for a perfect therapy dog for you may take some time. Hopefully, this article may help you give insight into the different types of therapy dogs.
According to Feinberg Consulting, there are three different types of therapy dogs such as “therapeutic Visitation” dogs, “Animal Assisted Therapy” dogs, and “Facility Therapy” Dogs.
The most common and first type of therapy dog is “Therapeutic Visitation” dog. These dogs take their time visiting rehabilitation centers, hospitals, and nursing homes. They help people that are away from home that is affected by a mental or physical disease.
It can lift their spirits, motivate them to go home and be active in their therapy. The second type of therapy dog is called “Animal Assisted Therapy” Dog. The goal of these therapy dogs is to assist physical and occupational therapists in the recovery of every patient.
They also help achieve motion in limbs, motor control, and coordination. The last type of therapy dog is called “Facility Therapy Dog.” This type of therapy dog mainly works in nursing homes and is trained to assist patients with mental illness such as Alzheimer’s disease and others.
A member with adequate training teaches this kind of therapy dogs, and it should be live at the facility.
Schedule a visit
There can be organizations, foundations or group that may be near you or within the locality. If you have free time on your hands or if you could squeeze a couple of minutes in your busy schedule, it won’t cost you anything to visit any facilities near you.
If you are still a little skeptical in visiting the area, you can always look at the website beforehand. Usually, you can have an insight of what the facility looks like and be informed of what they have services they could offer you.
You could also use this opportunity to view and meet the full range of options of cute furry or not-so-furry dogs that are happy to help you out. There are websites such as the Therapy Dogs International, Therapy Dog United, Nationwide Children’s Dog Visit Program, Alliance of Therapy Dogs and many other facilities that are glad to inform new possible clients or patients about their services and also describe their grounds. The website is to reassure you that maybe you could meet the perfect dog that could assist you and be happy to be with you.
Therapy Dogs United offer two different types of therapy dog outreach program: Therapeutic visitation dogs and animal-assisted therapy dogs. Therapeutic visitation dogs are a commonly used method of animal therapy.
In this technique, therapy dog would visit their client, and they could be referred as “volunteer handle.” As a form of therapeutic healing and treatment, the handler and dog will work together. On the other hand, there are the Animal-assisted therapy dogs.
They assist therapists in achieving more specific goals or results that is important towards patient’s recovery. They also help clients who are suffering from disabilities such as physical injuries, stroke, or trauma.
Animal-assisted therapy dogs and the handler team that is glad to volunteer will team up with an expert therapist to use equipment that could improve agility and forms of therapy techniques that are recreational.
In this method, they are hoping the method could get back strength, balance, and range of motion and with all this have confidence. They are happy to offer both methods to assist you. They also are open to new volunteer handlers. There are questions you have to consider before volunteering such as
- “Are you friendly with other people and their pets?”
- “Are you comfortable in a nursing home or medical setting?”
- “Do you have time and energy to volunteer on a regular basis?”
Nationwide Children’s Visit Program is one of the regularly scheduled activities for a patient and their families. In their program, they require dogs and their owner to be certified by TDI or Therapy Dogs International. Once the willing volunteers and their dogs get accredited, they are given scheduled visits from nationwide children’s family and volunteer services department. The visitation will take place in areas that open to the public. Usually, the visitation occurs monthly.
However, people who are willing to volunteer but doesn’t have TDI certification at the moment need to reach out to organizations to learn more about requirements and testing process and schedule