Friday, August 3, 2012

Tail Waggers Have Miraculous Healing Power: Dog Therapy

The healing power of dogs after some sort of psychological traumas or neural disorders is an indisputable fact, confirmed by both scientists and dog-lovers. Especially, it is associated with last decades, when domestication of dogs and keeping them as pets became usual and frequent. The special group of these animals is comprised of therapy dogs, specifically trained pets to bring up comfort and affection for individuals, who need certain psychological rehabilitation. The idea of this method was introduced in 1961 by Dr. Boris Levinson, who noticed that his patients feel better in presence of big shaggy dogs.

The scientific researches stated that stroking of dogs for 15 minutes gradually improves heartbeat, cheers up, decreases stress hormones, returns pulse and frequency of breathing back to normal and decreases blood pressure. In this context, there are several distinguished cases, where dog therapy would be extremely appropriate, including depressions, social adaptation disorders, neural conditions (infantile autism, neuroses and logoneurosis) and, of course, cardiovascular diseases. In nursing homes, dogs help to get rid of feeling of fear and a constant tension of being in contact with strangers. Dogs are able to encourage physical activity, to focus on sole act or thing.

There are also some requirements for dog breeds. In order to participate in this program, dogs should fit the profile, so to say. As one could guess, the main issue is associated with friendly and cheerful character. In particular, dogs should have a strong affection to children, calm attitude, allowing to stroke their fur and being patient and kindly. The preparation of "healing" dog usually takes from one and a half up to two years. Dogs are usually trained in special centers or dog clubs, and later they join dog teams in state institutions or private funds. Common dog therapy usually involves dogs of such breeds as Labrador, Golden Retriever, German Shepherd, Black Terrier.

 Healing power of dogs is much recognized in the world. For example, in Norway dogs’ education is taken care of by state institutions and the whole process is conducted under state’s control. In the United Kingdom dogs are trained in scientific and research establishments, engaged in study of various diseases and their diagnostics with dogs’ help. In the United States dogs comprise nearly 95% of therapy animals. Most of them provide assistance after major catastrophes, natural disasters (earthquakes, hurricanes, flooding) and shootings (after shooting in Northern Illinois University, for example).


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