A therapy pet, or therapy dog is usually classified as “AAA”. Sometimes they are just called Visiting Pets.
In order to benefit from pet therapy, the patient has to connect to the dog. Sometimes the handler or the hospital staff has no control at all over whether this happens at all. Sometimes the pet is used to lift the spirits and motivate an ailing or depressed person to move on with other activities. Grooming a dog is a very common suggested activity because it raises the self-esteem of the sick person as well as bonds him or her with the pet.
Sometimes a visit from a pet is it is merely something that breaks the routine. For others it is so deeply meaningful, they may talk about the visit for days afterward. Emotionally ill or mentally ill individuals may have withdrawn from human interaction, but will talk to the pet. This can give others insight into what a person who is deeply depressed is really thinking. It can also help a person who has had a stroke, as petting an animal is a very tactile activity.
Children have been known to use pets to express their feelings by projecting their own emotions and desires onto the dog. Even without the overview of a therapeutic program visiting pets can offer both physical and mental benefits. Residents are motivated to leave their rooms, become more physically active, and interact with others (usually because they are excited to tell others about their visit with the dog.)
There are numerous studies that show positive benefits in the animal-human interaction. Those studies are available through a variety of academic institutions, universities, colleges, and research organizations, Many studies are available on-line to individuals who have access to academic databases The best way to locate these studies is through university data bases.
Would your dog make a good therapy pet? It really does depend on your animal’s overall character. For some pets, as for some people, it is a welcome break in routine. Some love meeting lots of different people. Some enjoy the attention.
Other pets find visiting stressful because of the need to “behave” Or they find it stressful because the people they visit are unpredictable. Or they find the constant shifting from one person to another to be frustrating. Good things can be stressful and tiring, and that is often true with visiting dogs. They get home, they are tired and they sleep after they have performed a long day of service helping humans feel better. However some dogs are absolutely unreal in their ability to be friendly, loyal, gentle and faithful every minute a day and without tiring at all. These types of dogs, which are often in the herding breed category are incredible natural healers.