Pets As Therapy
The Job of a Therapy Dog
Canine assisted therapy involves social interaction, the experience of delight, pleasure, excitement, love and countless other therapeutic benefits that can be derived from canine companionship. Being around dogs, playing with them, handling them, even just watching them can help to calm, reduce stress, increase physical activity and motivation, relieve depression and anxiety.
Canine therapy is said to help particularly with children who special educational needs, including autism, behavioural problems, children with little or no speech and those who have difficulty focusing and sitting still. Also children who have physical difficulties may find that their bodies relax under the touch of a dog and the dog will motivate movement such as crawling, walking, moving and exercising limbs. A child that is encouraged to give commands to a dog may also learn that it is a good feeling when the dog carries out their command and therefore may transfer this to their everyday life when asked to do something by an adult.
Pets As Therapy at Broadmeadow
We first investigated the idea of having our very own Therapy dog when a member of staff used to bring her Labrador puppy into school way back in 2009. Jed was a beautiful, placid, well behaved and well socialised gentle dog. He had the ideal temperament for a Therapy dog. His owner Kate learnt all about origins and expectations of the training Jed needed to meet the high standards required for a Therapy dog. Jed attended rigorous weekly training sessions until he was old enough to undertake a P.A.T dog temperament assessment. His responses to various situations were tested which he passed unreservedly and was awarded registration with the P.A.T. organisation.
Jed then visited the school regularly each week, ‘working’ with children we thought would benefit from this approach. All interactions and programmes have been carefully monitored and evaluated in order to provide us with detailed information regarding pupil progress over time. We have really good evidence from this information of the benefits for children in terms of:
- Improving communication skills
- Improvement in social interactions
- More eye-contact
- Improvement in child’s emotional well-being
- Improvements in speaking and listening skills
- Increased co-operation and attention
Sadly our beloved Jed passed away in March 2016 following a sudden illness.
For more information on Pets As Therapy, please visit the website: www.petsastherapy.org