The Therapy Dog
As a young therapy dog in training, Kirby's training is focused on socialization and learning basic commands and impulse control. Kirby is training in puppy classes and individual training sessions with Grace Training center. When Kirby is between three and four years old, he and Dee will then go to weekend training to become certified in AAT to provide therapy to Dee's clients as well as to go visit hospitals and assisted living facilities.
There are many benefits associated with working with therapy animals in training and with AAT. Some benefits that have been found in animal assisted therapy include:
Animals help improve motivation and engagement in therapy, perhaps resulting in a shorter recovery process (and lower costs).
Animals provide a sense of security and emotional support. Dogs in particular offer unconditional acceptance and positive regard.
Animals can promote relaxation. Research has demonstrated that petting an animal can help lower blood pressure, heart rate, and increase oxytocin (a feel-good chemical in the brain). In a study of people who had heart attacks, those that had a companion animal loved longer than those that did not.
Animals can help the client learn frustration tolerance and other anger management techniques.
Animals can help in the areas of focus and attention.
Animals can be instruments of learning, which can increase self-confidence and self-esteem.
Animals offer humor and fun due to their playful nature.
Animals in therapy ask for clients to develp empathy, nurturance and responsibility, and model other skills like forgiveness and patience.
Clients can learn about stereotypes affecting animals and how they deal with stereotypes in their own life. Through this, they can learn advocacy skills.
Through the use of positive reinforcement-based dog training, clients can learn the importance of rewarding good behaviors in themselves, in their partners and/or their children.