Everyone loves dogs because they’re furry and fun, but did you know that therapy dogs are extremely beneficial to seniors?
Dogs go through training and testing before receiving a therapy dog certification. The official American Kennel Club test includes sitting politely for petting, sit and lay on command, walking through a crowd, coming when called, reaction to distraction, and more. The dogs must pass every aspect of the test in order to become an official therapy dog.
There are various types of therapy dogs as well, including Therapeutic Visitation dogs, Disaster Relief dogs, Facility Therapy dogs, Animal Assisted Therapy dogs, and Reading Therapy dogs. The type of therapy dog a senior can benefit from varies depending on the situation.
The most common type of pet therapy for seniors is Animal Assisted Therapy. This type of therapy involves dogs interacting with senior for various reasons to help improve their quality of life. More and more often, dogs and other animals are being used for therapeutic purposes at senior facilities.
Benefits of Therapy Dogs for Seniors
t’s a known fact that pets make people happy, but there is some science behind the reasoning. Fifteen minutes of bonding with an animal lowers your stress hormone, cortisol, and raises your feel-good hormone, serotonin. Over time, these interactions with dogs help to protect your heart rate, blood pressure, and stress levels.
ARTHRITIS: PETTING A DOG HELPS ARTHRITIS BECAUSE YOU ARE MOVING YOUR HANDS AND ARMS.
MOVEMENT: PLAYING FETCH WITH A DOG HELPS WITH THE MOVEMENT OF YOUR JOINTS.
MOBILITY: WALKING A DOG ALSO PROVIDES PHYSICAL BENEFITS DUE TO EXERCISE AND MOBILITY.
MENTAL HEALTH: SPENDING TIME WITH A DOG RAISES YOUR SEROTONIN LEVELS. THIS MEANS THAT DOGS CAN HELP WITH DEPRESSION AND LONELINESS.
MOOD: THERAPY DOGS CAN HELP SENIORS FEEL HAPPIER AND MORE COMMUNICATIVE BECAUSE THEY HELP PROVIDE EMOTIONAL STABILITY IN TIMES OF STRESS. SOMETIMES SENIORS GO THROUGH STRESSFUL CHANGES, AND THE DOGS HELP BY COMFORTING THEM.
ALZHEIMER’S AND DEMENTIA: DOGS CAN HELP PEOPLE WITH DEMENTIA OR ALZHEIMER’S BY CALMING THEM DOWN AND STIMULATING THEIR APPETITE IF THEY’RE NOT EATING REGULARLY.
It’s important for therapy dogs to be of certain breeds because they have to be calm and gentle. Smaller therapy dogs tend to work better for seniors; however, larger dogs can still work too. Here are the best breeds for therapy:
King Charles Spaniel
Bernese Mountain Dog
Be sure to find out which types of therapy dogs your senior care facility works with to determine which dog will work for you. Scheduling therapy sessions with dogs on a regular basis will help to improve your life and your health.