Dog-assisted therapy is oriented to people suffering from different physical or mental problems and, given their good results, the dogs are more and more required to accomplish this task.
And, although an animal with this function will visit schools, hospitals, geriatrics or penitentiaries on a daily basis, not for that reason it will stop being a pet that will enjoy walks, games, toys and pampering within its family environment.
What is the work of therapeutic dogs?
Unlike the care dogs, which live 24 hours with the people they help in different ways, the therapy dogs only carry out scheduled visits, accompanied by their guide – who, in general, is their owner – and together they work under the direction of a specialist (psychologist, pedagogue, etc).
Thus, they contribute to:
- Awakening reflexes in disabled people.
- Overcome phobias, depressions and diseases of nervous origin.
- Relax patients with dementia.
- Reduce the levels of violence and isolation in prisons.
A typical day for these dogs can occur in:
They are very helpful in cases of dementia, Alzheimer's and hearing problems.
They contribute to the development of cognitive abilities and the improvement of motor skills. Further, Encourage children to read and participate in programs about pet care and training with non-cruel methods.
Its main function is distract patients so that they forget, even for a while, the diseases they suffer or the pain they feel.
They are a good option for terminally ill patients who decide to receive palliative care at home. They distract from pain and generate well-being by caressing them.
Penitentiary and juvenile centers
The idea is that the prisoners train and take care of the dogs and can learn a trade (for example, canine hairdressing). and that children learn to take responsibility for an animal.
In these cases, dogs are used as shelters and shelters.
It is also of great importance the participation of these dogs in therapies focused on the cognitive plane, assisting patients with:
- Motor problems
- Developmental disorders
- Mental retardation
- Cerebral palsy
In recent times these dogs have begun to be used to help children who must testify in trials.
How? The child is taught to speak in the presence of the child. Thus, when it is time to enter the judicial room, the presence of the dog gives support and control of stimuli.
Requirements that therapeutic dogs must meet
Not all dogs have the skills to carry out that task. That is why they are evaluated to rule out behavior pathologies such as phobias and aggression.
Ideally, these animals should live with a family and not that they come from shelters, except in some specific cases already mentioned.
In addition to receiving a basic obedience, They must meet the following characteristics:
- Very sociable and docile
- Desiring to please man
- Tolerant, patient and willing
- Intelligent and able to learn easily
- They should not be disturbed by sudden noises
Already in the specific training phase, a Through positive reinforcement and daily work, they are taught, mainly, not to get upset to loud noises, unpleasant pavements or penetrating smells, such as, for example, those of a hospital.
Then they are subjected to simulated situations to check their reaction and it is evaluated for which pathology they have the greatest disposition.
While in principle any race can be used for these purposes, the most required are Golden Y Labrador Retriever. It is not advisable to use dogs of large size, that intimidate patients; or animals that lose a lot of hair, because of the allergies they can cause.
Neither are animals with ears and amputated tails advisable. Its unfriendly appearance can be intimidating. You should also avoid dogs that drool too much, as they are very unhygienic for some areas.
Outside the medical field and without mediating pathologies, anyone who has or had a dog can talk about the benefits of sharing a life with a pet.
That the dog is Man's best friend is a phrase that seems to make more sense day by day.