Why the therapy dogs are trending in schools

Service dogs are trained dogs to provide assistance or support to the individual with disabilities as, hearing or visual difficulties, seizure disorder or mobility challenges. While the role of therapy dogs is to react and respond under the guidance of their owner. For example, individual are encouraged to gently pat or talk to dog to teach sensitive touch or help them to remain calm.

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Therapy dogs can be part of animal-assisted therapy. It also increases the social, cognitive and emotional functioning between the client and professional. The animal assisted activities may facilitate the emotional or physical mental health. Furthermore, research also suggested therapy dogs can reduce the symptoms of depression, post traumatic disorder and anxiety. It is due to the human- animal bond which triggers the oxytocin hormone and decreases the cortisol level. Consequently, reduce stress.

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Researchers examined the following benefits of therapy dogs:

1-Develop interpersonal and social skills

2-Teach empathy

3-The presence of animal is soothing

4-Helps to strengthen relation with clients and professional

Benefits of therapy dogs in schools

Recently a report highlighted that children working with therapy dogs are more motivated for learning. They support children social and emotional needs, which in turn assist with literacy development. Moreover, a research on the effects of therapy dog at school examined increase in school attendance. Gain in confidence among children as well as decrease in learning anxiety and increase in reading and writing level. The therapy dogs enhance the relationship with teachers due to experience of trust and unconditional love from animals.

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Researchers also estimate the significant less level of stress and anxiety and increase happiness and energy after the session as compared to control group of students who did not spend time with therapy dogs.

Still the therapy dog programs rely on volunteer organizations such as Story Dogs working in different region of Australia, who have 323 dogs and help 1,615 children each week. Further research in these programs will help to find impact of student learning and outcomes.

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