Sponsored Links

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Fox Valley Humane Association | Therapy Dog Program
src: www.foxvalleypets.org

A therapy dog is a dog that might be trained to provide affection, comfort and love to people in hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, schools, hospices, disaster areas, and are defined but not covered or protected under the Federal Housing Act or Americans with Disabilities act. They also do not have public access rights with exception to the specific places they are visiting and working. Typically the dog would be granted rights by individual facilities only.

The systematic use of therapy dogs is attributed to Elaine Smith, who noticed patients positively responding to visits by a chaplain and his Golden Retriever. In 1976, Smith started a program for training dogs to visit institutions.

Therapy dogs are usually not assistance or service dogs, but can be one or both with some organizations. Many organizations provide evaluation and registration for therapy dogs, sometimes with focus on a particular therapeutic practice such as reading to dogs.

Video Therapy dog


A therapy dog is a dog that might be trained to provide affection, comfort and love to people in hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, schools, hospices, disaster areas, and to people with anxiety disorders or autism. Therapy dogs are usually not assistance or service dogs, but can be one or both with some organizations.

In the U.S., therapy dogs are not service animals and are not afforded the same privileges as service animals are.

Maps Therapy dog


The systematic use of therapy dogs is attributed to Elaine Smith, who worked as a registered nurse. Smith noticed how well patients responded to visits by a chaplain and his Golden Retriever. In 1976, Smith started a program for training dogs to visit institutions, and the demand for therapy dogs continued to grow.

Therapy Dogs | Teddybear Goldendoodles
src: www.teddybeargoldendoodles.com


Therapy dogs are usually not assistance or service dogs, but can be one or both with some organizations. Therapy dogs are not trained to assist specific individuals and do not qualify as service dogs under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Many organizations provide evaluation and registration for therapy dogs. Typical tests might ensure that a dog can handle sudden loud or strange noises; can walk on assorted unfamiliar surfaces comfortably; are not frightened by people with canes, wheelchairs, or unusual styles of walking or moving; get along well with children and with the elderly; and so on. Institutions may invite, limit, or prohibit access by therapy dogs. If allowed, many institutions have rigorous requirements for therapy dogs. United States-based Therapy Dogs International (TDI) bans the use of service dogs in their therapy dog program. Service dogs perform tasks for persons with disabilities and have a legal right to accompany their owners in most areas. In the United States, service dogs are legally protected at the federal level by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

In the United States, some organizations require that a dog pass the equivalent of the American Kennel Club's Canine Good Citizen test and then add further requirements specific to the environments in which the dogs will be working. Other organizations have their own testing requirements. In Canada, St John Ambulance provides therapy dog certification. In the UK, Pets As Therapy (PAT) provides visiting dogs and cats to establishments where pets are otherwise not available. Also in the UK Therapy Dogs Nationwide (TDN) provide visiting dogs to establishments.

Paws to Relax this finals week with therapy dogs! | News
src: blogs.lib.uconn.edu


Common breeds used in therapy dog application and research includes Golden Retrievers and Labradors.

Therapy Dogs International
src: www.tdi-dog.org



The use of therapy dogs on patients with physical maladies has begun to be tested. Research has been done in areas such as those affected with heart failure, oncology patients, and individuals suffering from severe brain injuries.  For example, a group at UCLA medical center performed a study on hospitalized patients with heart failure.  Their results showed that patients who received a visit from a therapy dog displayed improved cardiopulmonary pressures, improved neurohormone levels, and reduced levels of anxiety. Another study, lead by Nathiana Silva and Flávia Osório, studied the effect of therapy dogs on children in outpatient oncological treatment.  The results showed psychological progress including improvements in pain levels, irritation, stress, and depression.  Additionally, those same children's caregivers showed improved levels of anxiety, stress, mental confusion, and depression.  Also, the Division of Neuropaediatrics at the University Children's Hospital in Basel, Switzerland performed a study on the effects of therapy dogs on patients with brain injuries.  Their participants reported increased alertness and concentration.

Mental Health

Research into the clinical use of therapy dogs for the purpose of improving mental health has also been organized.  Areas of study include forms of dementia such as Alzheimer's disease and schizophrenia.  One such study was conducted on patients diagnosed and living with chronic schizophrenia at Saint John of God's psychiatric hospital in Spain.  The study found that the use of therapy dogs significantly improved participants social contact and quality of life related to social relationships.  Nancy Richeson performed another study on older adults with dementia. Her participants demonstrated a statistically significant decrease in agitated behavior and increase in social interaction.

Pre-K through 12

Occasionally, therapy dogs are used in primary school settings.  Often they are used as ways to improve student's academic success and assist with emotional or mental health needs.  This is backed by research such as the study conducted by the College of New Jersey on the students of an elementary school ranging from kindergarten through fifth grade.  They found the use of therapy dogs in reading programs showed a significant increase in reading scores for kindergarteners, and educators reported increases in confidence and interest in reading for all their students.  Additional studies include research performed by Edward Levinson's team at Indiana University of Pennsylvania on elementary student's using therapy dog reading programs. Their findings showed that the student's in the program displayed an increase in scores on a test of oral reading fluency.


Multiple universities have begun the use of therapy dogs on campus.  Their use was mostly sparked by research lauding the benefits provided for students. These ideals are backed by research such as the study conducted by John-Tyler Binfet at the University of British Columbia. His participants were university level students and they exhibited significant decreases in stress, homesickness, and improved feelings of school belonging after an intervention session with a therapy dog.  Another study performed on university students by Emma Ward-Griffin and team reported similar findings.  Their research showed that participants exposed to therapy dogs decreased stress, increased happiness, and improved energy levels.


There has been significant research on the use of therapy dogs in the military.  Usually, the focus of such research has been aimed toward canine assisted therapy in the treatment of PTSD.  A study from the Department of Psychology at Southern Illinois University Carbondale was performed on veterans and military personnel with PTSD.  Their findings showed that therapy dogs reduced PTSD symptoms and depression even six months after initial treatments.  Another study out of Purdue University's College of Veterinary Medicine was also conducted on military personnel and veterans with PTSD.  Their results concluded that the use of therapy dogs on this group showed a decrease in PTSD symptoms, lower levels of depression, and an increase in social participation.

Dogs bring 'a little light' into 'nightmare' of childhood cancer - CNN
src: cdn.cnn.com


At colleges and universities

Some colleges and universities in the US bring therapy dogs to campus to help students de-stress. These campus events are often referred to as "Therapy Fluffies", a term coined by Torrey Trust, the original founder of the UC San Diego therapy dog de-stress event. In 2009, Sharon Franks, shared the idea of bringing therapy dogs to campus with the UC San Diego Office of Student Wellness. Similar events have been held worldwide.

Since the autumn of 2010, "Therapy Fluffies" has visited the UC Davis, UC Santa Cruz, and UC Riverside campuses during the week before mid-term and final exams. These events give students and staff the opportunity to pet and relax with therapy-certified dogs. The university also works with the Inland Empire Pet Partners--a service of the Humane Society-- to bring therapy-certified dogs to the campus' Mental Health Day Spa, held quarterly. In 2016, the School Of Medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University carried out a study assessing the benefits therapy dogs have on students pre exam stress levels. They discovered that allowing students to interact with visiting therapy dogs on campus before exams, for a brief 15 minute interval, significantly reduced students' perceived exam stress levels. In 2014, Concordia University, Wisconsin became the first university in the US to adopt a full-time therapy dog to its campus in Mequon, WI. The golden retriever, Zoey, is a Lutheran church Charities K-9 Comfort Dog, trained to interact with people at churches, schools, nursing homes, hospitals, events, and in disaster response situations.


Programs such as the Reading Education Assistance Dogs (R.E.A.D.) program to promote literacy and communication skills. The practice uses therapy dogs to encourage children to read aloud by giving them a nonjudgemental listener.

Kono the Golden Retriever Becomes a Therapy Dog | Wellness Pet Food
src: www.wellnesspetfood.com

See also

  • Animal-assisted therapy
  • Service animal
  • Service dog
  • Therapy cat

Palomar Paws Pet Therapy | Palomar Health | San Diego County, CA
src: www.palomarhealth.org


How Smiley the Amazing Blind Therapy Dog brought Smiles to ...
src: i.ytimg.com

External links

  • Assistance Animal State Laws - Michigan State University
  • Disabilities and Medical Conditions - TSA (Transport Security Administration)
  • National Geographic News article
  • Development & Validation of a Research Instrument to Assess the Effectiveness of Animal-Assisted Therapy

Source of the article : Wikipedia