Therapy dogs are pets that improve your health by giving emotional support. You can train your dog to be a therapy dog to provide support to yourself and to others.
Therapy dogs live in people’s homes. They can also visit various settings, including retirement or nursing homes, schools, hospice homes, and hospitals. They are trained to be gentle and friendly and accept strangers hugging or petting them. They are patient and unbothered by children who tug at their fur or adults who want the smaller ones to sit in their laps.
How Therapy Dogs Can Boost Your Health
Some mental health challenges and psychiatric disorders are known to respond well to therapy dogs. Patients diagnosed with a range of issues, such as depression, bipolar disorder, autism, ADHD, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and Alzheimer’s disease, benefit from their interaction with therapy dogs and other companion animals.
Sometimes, emotional challenges are the result of physical health problems, and therapy dogs can help with those too. Research suggests that patients who are recovering from difficult surgery or a bad accident who participate in animal-assisted therapy may feel less pain. Studies have shown that such interactions can increase the mood-boosting hormone oxytocin and decrease the stress hormone cortisol.
What Is the Difference Between a Service Dog and Therapy, or Companion Dog?
A service dog must be individually trained to perform work or tasks directly related to the handler’s disability, while a therapy and emotional support dog merely provides comfort and coping assistance to an individual in some fashion. Therapy dogs are often the pets of the therapist or psychiatric personnel of the institution or hospital where they bring comfort. Therapy and emotional support dogs are allowed in housing under the Fair Housing Act (FHA), but are not permitted in public places as are service dogs.
Companion animals are not individually trained to perform any specific kind of task. Instead, the principal service that companion animals provide is simply that—companionship. While service animals are trained to behave flawlessly in public, companion animals may or may not be as well-behaved. As a result, companion animals are virtually indistinguishable from the family pet.
Why Golden Retrievers Make Great Service Dogs
When choosing a service animal, there are a lot of breeds to choose from, but among them, the golden retriever remains one of the top choices. Golden retrievers make good service dogs because they have the necessary qualities to excel at service dog training.
Golden retrievers are known for their friendly disposition. Your dog may have to accompany you in public spaces, such as grocery stores, public transportation, entertainment events, etc. Unfriendly dogs may be wary or reactive to strangers. A golden retriever is a loving dog, eager to please its owner and happy to meet new people.
People may attempt to approach your service dog or touch him. In these situations, your dog cannot be quick to react negatively. While you can instruct people to steer clear of your dog, you cannot guarantee that no one will touch him. For this reason, you cannot have a dog that acts aggressively or anxiously towards strangers.
Some of the best therapy dogs and service dogs are the ones that do not leave their owner’s side. Even pet golden retrievers tend to follow their human around. Many people use the term velcro dog when referring to goldens because they want to be close to you at all times. When a dog trusts you, he follows you everywhere. They may be service animals that help you, but they also look to you for approval.
Goldens are a trainable breed. Historically golden retrievers were hunting dogs, so it is natural for them to work alongside humans. Dogs bred for work tend to be more obedient than other breeds. They are trainable because they are one of the most intelligent breeds. However, this does not always mean that it’s easy to train your service dog without a professional’s help. Professionally trained service dogs are more likely to pass their tests. Golden retrievers are people-pleasers and food motivated. These two qualities make them eager to learn.