The role of dogs in therapy and emotional support

by Kris Rollo

In a world where stress and mental health challenges are becoming increasingly prevalent, the therapeutic role of dogs has gained widespread recognition. In this article, we’ll delve into the therapeutic benefits of dogs, exploring how they can provide emotional support, comfort, and assistance in various settings.

The unique bond between humans and dogs dates back thousands of years, evolving from working relationships to deeply interconnected emotional bonds. This strong connection is built on trust, loyalty, and unconditional love, forming the foundation for a canine role in therapy and emotional support.


Therapy dogs

Therapy dogs are specially trained to provide comfort and companionship in various settings, such as hospitals, nursing homes, and schools. Their calming presence and non-judgmental demeanour create a supportive environment for individuals coping with physical and emotional challenges.

Research has consistently shown that interactions with therapy dogs can lower blood pressure, reduce stress hormones, and elevate mood-enhancing chemicals in the brain. Whether it's a hospital patient recovering from surgery or a student facing academic pressures, the presence of a therapy dog can alleviate anxiety and promote a sense of well-being.

Woman holding a white support dog in an apartment


Emotional support dogs

Emotional support dogs are not just for those with diagnosed mental health conditions. They provide comfort and companionship to anyone in need of emotional support. These dogs are often prescribed by mental health professionals to individuals facing anxiety, depression, or other emotional challenges.

One of the key benefits of emotional support dogs is their ability to detect and respond to their owner's emotional state. Whether it's sensing anxiety and providing a calming presence or offering unconditional love during moments of sadness, these dogs offer a steady source of support in the rollercoaster of human emotions.


Looking at the positives

The positive impact of dogs on human emotions is not merely anecdotal; studies support the therapeutic benefits of the human-dog bond. Interaction with dogs triggers the release of oxytocin, often referred to as the "love hormone," promoting feelings of trust and bonding. Additionally, the rhythmic act of petting a dog has been linked to reduced cortisol levels, a hormone associated with stress.

Beyond the physiological responses, the presence of a dog can also enhance social interactions and reduce feelings of isolation. Dogs provide a non-judgmental companionship that fosters a sense of connection, particularly for individuals struggling with mental health challenges.

The versatility of dogs in therapy is remarkable. They can adapt to various therapeutic approaches to meet individual needs. For example, in animal-assisted therapy, a trained therapist may use a dog as a co-therapist to facilitate communication and emotional expression. This approach has proven effective in treating conditions such as PTSD, autism spectrum disorders, and substance abuse.

The role of dogs in therapy and emotional support has become increasingly significant. Whether in the form of therapy dogs providing comfort in hospitals or emotional support dogs offering unwavering companionship, the bond between humans and dogs is a testament to the profound impact animals can have on our well-being.

If you’d like to book your first, or your next, appointment with Doggy Styling visit us today at our Cobham dog grooming salon, our Weybridge dog grooming salon, or our Surbiton dog grooming salon.

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