You’ve heard about pet therapy. It just might be a good option for you or a loved one. So, what is the next step? How do you find a therapy pet that is right for your needs? Here are some suggestions.
Pets and Holistic Health
Studies show that the presence of a pet has health benefits for the owner. While everyone isn’t in a position to own a pet, this doesn’t mean that they can’t benefit from someone else’s. Pet therapy programs are designed for owners to share their pets with others who might need a bit of four-legged therapy. As part of a therapy program, pets are utilized to provide emotional support, break down barriers and be a constant for patients that are thought would benefit from this type of interaction.
Pets provide a number of health boosts to owners. They are constant mood enhancers. Pets mimic the emotional states of their owners. Because they are people pleasers, they will provide comfort and companionship when you need it most. They are also intelligent and loving, so they learn and can be of assistance to you. Animals can improve mental focus, physical strength, social interactions, reduce stress and anxiety, lower blood pressure and increase self-confidence and self-esteem.
Finding a Therapy Pet or Program
So where are these dynamic animals kept? Many people can find pets to be stressful because of the aspects of their care (feeding, walking, bathroom training). However, pet therapy is designed to be anything but stressful. The pet is owned by a private person who cares for them and is responsible for their training to perform therapy. Many patients learn about care for the animal and do assist with that, even though they are not solely responsible.
- Perform some research – You can get on the internet and search for pet therapy programs in your area. Also search for national organizations that may operate a chapter near you. Suggestions: The American Kennel Club (www.akc.org), the ASPCA (www.aspca.org), the Delta Society (https://petpartners.org/) and Therapy Dogs International (http://tdi-dog.org).
- Visit your local animal shelter – They usually have information about pet visitation programs and pet therapy certified animals. People may bring animals they can no longer care for to the shelter and they may have the training necessary to become a therapy pet.
- Check with dog trainers and kennels – They may have relationships with programs that are looking for trainable animals to pair with handlers or to use as service dogs.
- Ask your therapist – If you believe that a therapy animal will be of benefit to you or a loved one, consult your therapy provider. They may know themselves or have contacts with other providers who utilize this type of adjunct to their therapy process.
Therapy pets and/or programs are available all across the country. Begin your search today.