Updated: Jul 19
Riya is an accountant during the week and a therapy dog handler on weekends. She, along with Biscuit, her three-year-old Golden Retriever, is part of an organization that arranges dog visits to hospitals, schools, and homes to help people with depression and stress. Biscuit forms a team with Riya to provide Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT), a program where the animal is trained to bring about therapeutic effects.
The primary purpose of therapy dogs, also known as ‘comfort dogs,’ is to foster all-round healing. Their even temperament makes them natural mood-boosters facilitating emotional well-being.
Dog therapy and AAT are gaining popularity in India as more pet parents learn the benefits of sustained interaction programs between humans and animals. AAT practitioners swear by the success stories they have been a part of and there are plenty of children and adults alike who have experienced positive changes with dog therapy.
So, how do therapy dogs work? How do you become the owner of a therapy dog? Here’s a primer for you.
Are therapy dogs effective?
The resounding answer is, yes! Several studies have shown the effectiveness of using therapy dogs in various physical and mental health issues ranging from injury pain relief to reducing blood pressure. Dogs also help in improving self-esteem, and motivation and the general cognitive quality of life.
A 12-minute session with a dog improved lung and heart function by lowering blood pressure, reducing harmful hormones, and easing anxiety among heart patients