Many people find the companionship found in a dog to be just what the doctor ordered. The unconditional love a dog gives can most definitely be used as a form of therapy, and many people rely heavily on their animals to get them through the stresses of everyday life. And it can be a big job! Helping people all around the world with whatever they may be going through – illness, trauma, anxiety/stress and more. In fact, therapy dogs have even found a place in Canadian universities during the school year to aid students who are feeling anxious and stressed over their upcoming exams to help send them back to a relaxed, calm state of mind which better allows them to re-focus their energy and study much more efficiently.
Therapy dogs play an often overlooked role in our communities to enhance the health and well-being of our neighbours. Not to be confused with other service dogs, therapy dogs are trained to provide affection and comfort to those in hospitals, hospices, nursing homes, retirement homes, disaster areas, and to help people with certain conditions such as Asperger’s or Autism.
If you’re thinking about enrolling your dog to become a therapy dog, there are a few things to consider and ensure they are comfortable with before you do so. As in most cases, every job is not right for every dog. Factors to consider are personality, social skills and reactive traits. Think about how their personality is – are they calm and don’t get overly excited easily? Their social skills – do they interact with people well with no issues? And their reactions – does your dog do well in unfamiliar situations and with unfamiliar sounds and objects? If the answer to all of these is yes, then your dog may be a great fit for a therapy dog.
The next step in the process is to apply! Both yourself and your dog will apply together to work with people in your community while also developing a strong bond with each one of them. You can apply today by going to St. John’s Ambulance.
April 11th is Therapy Dog Appreciation day! Take this day to throw a thanks – or a treat – in the direction of any therapy dog!