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Man’s best friend may also be the best therapist!

If you click on the link below, there is yahoo health article sharing the story of a little boy who overcame selective mutism and learned how to talk after he started playing with a therapy dog. While many people are aware of therapy dogs visiting patients in hospitals or nursing homes, few realize the extent of assistance a therapy dog can bring to a person suffering from a disability or illness.

http://health.yahoo.net/experts/dayinhealth/dog-who-teaches-kids-talk

Therapy dog’s main role is to provide companionship to a person. Whereas, an assistance dog will actually assist a person in order to make that person’s day to day life easier. However, the role of companionship should not be diminished. Research supporting therapy dogs suggests that the interaction between the dog and human can increase oxytocin (bonding) and dopamine (happiness), while lowering cortisol (stress).1

In the USA, in order to bring a dog to a hospital, skilled nursing facility, or school, most organizations require the dog to be certified. There are a number of certifications out there. However, it is important to check with the organization to see what certificates they require. . A dog is given the therapy dog certificate if it can meet a number of behavioral standards. First, the dog must get along with everyone. It must also have a calm temperament and not scare easily when around loud noises or unfamiliar equipment.

Looking for a breakthrough in your therapy routine? Man’s best friend just might be a therapist’s best friend.

Some websites to check out for therapy dog certification are the following:

www.animalhealthfoundation.net/

www.akc.org/akctherapydog/organizations.cfm

www.therapydogcertification.com/

1 http://www.scas.org.uk/files/SCASJournal_Aut10_PetsandMentalHealth.pdf

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