Daily Life of Therapeutic Dogs
Assisted therapy with dogs is aimed at people suffering from different physical or mental problems and, given their good results, dogs are increasingly required to complete this task.
And, although an animal with this function will visit schools, hospitals, geriatric or penitentiaries every day, it will not 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 assistance dogs, who live 24 hours a day with the people they help in different ways, therapy dogs only make scheduled visits, accompanied by their guide – who usually owns them – and together They work under the direction of a specialist (psychologist, pedagogue, etc).
Thus, they contribute to:
- Wake 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 usual day for these dogs can take place in:
They are helpful in cases of dementia, Alzheimer’s and hearing problems.
They contribute to the development of cognitive skills and the improvement of motor skills. In addition, they encourage children to read and participate in programs on pet care and training with non-cruel methods.
Its main function is to distract patients to forget, even for a while, the diseases they suffer or the pain they feel.
They are a good option for the terminally ill who decide to receive palliative care at home. They distract them from pain and generate well-being by caressing them.
Prison and juvenile centers
The idea is that prisoners train and care for dogs and can learn a trade (for example, dog grooming). and that children learn to take responsibility for an animal.
In these cases, protective dogs and shelters are used.
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 dog. Thus, when the time comes to enter the courtroom, 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 behavioral pathologies such as phobias and aggressiveness.
Ideally, these animals live with a family and not come from shelters, except in some specific cases already mentioned.
In addition to receiving basic obedience, they must meet the following characteristics :
- Very sociable and docile
- Eager to please a man
- Tolerant, patient and willing
- Intelligent and able to learn easily
- They should not be altered with sudden noises
Already in the specific training phase, through positive reinforcement and daily work, they are taught, mainly, not to be disturbed by loud noises, unpleasant pavements or penetrating odors, such as those of a hospital.
Then they are subjected to simulated situations to check their reaction and it is evaluated for which pathology they have more disposition.
Although in principle any breed can be used for these needs, the most required are Golden and Labrador Retriever. It is not advisable to use large dogs, which intimidate the patients; or animals that lose a lot of hair, because of the allergies they can cause.
Nor are animals with ears and amputated tails advisable. Its unfriendly appearance can intimidate. Dogs that drool too much should also be ignored, 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 life with a pet.
That the dog is man’s best friend is a phrase that seems to make more sense day by day.