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How can a Facility Dog help?
Comfort and emotional support
The therapeutic roles of a facility dog:
- Client/Patient motivation: The dog offers unconditional love and nonjudgmental interactions. The Patient/Client and the dog can engage in physical activities set by the therapist. The dog can also be used as a reward for completing a task. The session becomes more fun, pleasurable and therefore, more productive.
- Emotional support: Under the guidance of the facilitator, the dog can help soothe a person going through a difficult time. Dogs are trained to place their head on the person’s lap as a calming gesture or to get on the person’s lap or body, applying pressure and warmth. In healthcare or dental clinic, the dog can lie next to a person going through a procedure and reassure and distract from the discomfort.
- Functional outcomes: In a rehabilitation or psychiatric clinic, through interactions with the dog such as grooming, playing fetch or feeding, patients can improve their physical and/or life skills. The dog can be used to promote range of motion, balance, coordination, strength, visual and cognitive skills.
- Social interaction: A facility dog can help a child open up and share secrets too difficult to tell an adult. In a courtroom, a dog could help the child feel safe and stay calm while testifying.
- Provide reassurance and tactile stimulation. In an educational setting, a dog might be used as a teaching tool in school and encourage a child to read.
- Stress reducer: A dog can sit next to a child who is crying or anxious about a situation. In a waiting room, just by laying close to a person, the dog can offer a reassuring and distracting presence.