Emotional Support Dogs/ Therapy Dogs
As a therapist, I find the connection between humans and canines fascinating! I often bring pups or our breeding dog parents into the therapy room! The following is a list of benefits that pets have in various therapy fields such as; 1) the home, 2) the school and 3) the therapy room. For a large extent, dogs were used, but the same benefits can be associated to other animals such as cats and horses etc. Our furry friends certainly help us function in our crazy world.
If you are looking for an therapy dog for your office or an emotional support dog for school/home, please allow me to be of service. I humbly offer you my expertise in our breeding program as well as my knowledge in the counseling field. I would love to hear your story and help match you with the best puppy that would can do the deep work of emotional support.
INSPIRING AMERICA: Meet the 2 best friends — a boy and his dog — using their adorableness to help fellow foster children – (tap or click the video for sound for this report)
Posted by NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt on Tuesday, November 29, 2016
History of Therapeutic Pets
The following is a brief history of therapeutic pets as well as findings from academic studies showing the benefits of the presence of animals at home, school and in therapy.
Pets in therapy were first started in England in the late 18th century (at the York Asylum) although it was not recognized as a certified practice at the time” (Chitic et al, 2013). Later, Boris Levinson, Canadian psychologist and “father” of Animal assisted therapy said:
“A pet is an island of sanity in what appears to be an insane world. Friendship retains its traditional values and securities in one’s relationship with one’s pet. Whether a dog, cat, bird, fish, turtle or what have you, one can rely upon the fact that one’s pet will always remain faithful, intimate, non-competitive friend – regardless of the good or ill fortune life brings us” (Levinson, 1962)
He also claimed, that “ a pet is a natural object of attachment and relationships with pets tend to be simpler, more predictable, more consistent and, for some people at least, more rewarding. A pet is likely to be experienced as a safe haven and secure base, because its owner can feel that the pet offers unconditional love and would not leave in times of the owner’s distress. “(Levinson, 1969)
The presence of an animal
- “ has been found to significantly lower behavioral, emotional and verbal distress in children when participating in a mildly stressful activity such as a visit to the doctor’s office” (Nagengast, 1997)
- “lower blood pressure and heart rate when a child reads aloud” (Friedmann, 1983)
- “has been found to contribute to elementary student’s overall emotional stability” (Anderson & Olsen, 2006)
- “animals may offer children a time-out from the anxieties of human exchange, despite most children’s acknowledgment that animals cannot literally comprehend what they are saying, children, have the feeling of being heard and understood” (Friesen, 2010)
- After children with disabilities spent time with [animals], “the results of the parental questionnaires showed stable positive changes in children’s communicative abilities and social-emotional behavior and in parental quality of life” (Stumph & Breitenbach, 2014)
- “can fulfill attachment functions and share key characteristics and functions with human attachment figures. These functions are characterized by developing a sense of attachment through the availability of a secure person which contributes to self-worth, adaptive emotional-regulation strategies, effective psychosocial functioning, and favorable health” (Zilcha-Mano, Mikulincer, Shaver, 2011)
- “provides a secure base from which their owners can more confidently explore the world” (McNicholas & Collis, 1995)
- “provides a safe haven and constitute a source of support, comfort, and relief in times of need” (Allen, Balscovich & Mendes, 2002).
- “Many people who find it difficult to be playful in human contexts may find it easy when interacting with pets. Playful interactions ay increase exploration, spontaneity, creativity and intrinsic joy and pets do not hide or hold back aspects of themselves” (Zilcha-Mano 2011)
- “pet owners expressed higher aspirations and demonstrated greater feelings of capability and self-efficacy in attaining personal goals when a pet was physically or cognitively present than when it was absent. When a pet was physically present or cognitively present, its owner reported lower levels of distress and displayed lower levels of physiological signs of distress while performing stressful tasks”
- “pet(s) enable nonverbal interaction, which is much more natural for [people ] who have problems in verbalizing their feelings and thoughts, such as small children and people with organic, developmental or severe emotional problems” (Zilcha-Mano, 2011)
- “participants were more likely to turn to their pet dogs when they experienced emotional distress than they were to turn to mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, best friends, and children” (Kurdek, 2009)
- “increased feelings of happiness, security, and self-worth, and reduced feelings of loneliness, isolation, and stress” (Geist, 2011)
Within the school setting, pets have:
- “been found to provide a more positive attitude towards school in children diagnosed with a severe emotional disorder” (Anderson & Olsen, 2006)
- “contributed to student self-esteem by providing a “friend” to bond with and love in the classroom setting” (Zasloff & Heart, 1999)
- “Students tend to be more attentive, more responsive, and more cooperative with an adult when a dog is present in the classroom” (Limond, 1997)
- Enabled students to experience “growth in [the] use of positive comments, a decrease of distractibility, an increase in eye contact with people, improved appropriateness of voice tone with people and increase in sense of control over self and environment, improved peer relations and environment with a decrease in tantrums” (Geist, 2011)
- An experiment in which students with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Conduct Disorder could either go to the school zoo (containing 13 species of animals) or Outward Bound (hiking, rock climbing adventure club). The students who chose the school zoo increased in education, decreased in agitated and aggressive behavior, improved cooperation with instructors, showed enthusiastic engagement with learning, and improved behavioral control in the regular education classes. Changes were immediate and generalized into the regular school setting within 6 months. The results with the Outward Bound program did not achieve the same success (Katcher & Wilkins, 1994).
- “When people are taught to be kind to animals and treat them with respect, they also learn to be kind and to respect other people” (Urichuk & Anderson, 2003)
- “children have experienced increased alertness and attention span and an enhanced openness and desire for social contact when involved in therapy sessions with dogs” (Prothmann, 2006)
- “include the acceptance and non-judgmental bond offered by animals (Mallon, 1994)
- “promotes the unique position as ‘child as nurturer’ in the relationships (Melson, 2001)
- “provide a unique form of support to children’s learning, physical health an emotional well-being, not otherwise possible through human interaction and intervention alone” (Jalongo, 2004)
- “it is possible that even people who do not allow themselves to trust another person, as a consequence of early traumas with primary caregivers, may trust a pet. For children whose parents do not meet their developmental needs, animal companions might fill the gaps. Levinson (1972) has said, “These children have experienced so much hurt at the hands of people in their environment. It is only after they have had a satisfactory relationship with an animal that they can make a start at developing a human relationship”
- “pets tend to be more emotionally available, submissive and interested in currying favor” (Zilcha- Mano, 2011)
- “in the relationship with a therapy pet, anxiously attached individuals may feel secure because the relationship is under their control. They know that the therapy pet will be waiting for them” (Zilcha-Mano, 2011)
- “Children easily identify with an animal and in many cases they may find interacting with a pet easier and less threatening than communicating with a therapist” for example, “cats help a client see the therapist as friendly and caring” Zilcha-Mano, 2011)
- “It is socially acceptable for clients to touch, stroke and hug a pet while talking about painful memories. Sometimes, even the mere presence of a pet may promote relaxation during these stressful moments” (Katcher, Segal, & Beck, 1984)
- “the presence of a dog in therapy reduced the initial tension and created an atmosphere of warmth” (Lubbe & Scholtz, 2013)