Written by Samantha Bubar on www.wideopenpets.com
Therapy dogs come in all shapes and sizes and we’ve all seen them at work. Whether at the mall, the grocery store, or walking down the street, therapy dogs are working for their owners. While the initial reaction for most is to approach a service dog, these dogs are at work.
Cats have been used for therapy as well, for individuals that may be intimidated or afraid of dogs. The difficulty with cats as therapy animals is that they aren’t as easily transported as dogs, and aren’t usually trained as service animals as they often aren’t large enough to perform tasks in the event of a medical emergency.
They are common in nursing homes as they weave in and out of rooms, checking in on all the patients, pausing to snooze and snuggle. They also aid elderly suffering from dementia.
Equine therapy is popular among individuals with a multitude of behaviors. Caring for a large animal requires your full attention, and offers a break from whatever disruptive thoughts or behaviors are taking place (anger, abuse, learning disabilities, etc.).
Learning the skills necessary to care for a horse helps promote confidence and eases anxiety and impatience. Teaching an individual how to trust and interact with a horse has shown immense benefits for all parties involved.
Other small animals have been used as a more convenient form of therapy. Animals such as guinea pigs and rabbits offer the same assistance with comfort and companionship, fine motor skills, and emotional/behavioral benefits as their canine co-workers.
While new to the therapy animal occupation, reptiles have been used in London to help individuals struggling with depression, eating disorders, and substance abuse.
Caring for a reptile takes a great deal of concentration and offers individuals a reprieve from their emotional, mental, or physical struggles.
Parrots specifically have been known to have a high level of empathy, making them great candidates for emotional support animals. Parrots can be taught words and phrases, which can help individuals and their animals work together during certain psychological episodes.
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Additional information and resources on service and animal therapy can be found here: