FunNature & AnimalTherapy Dogs Helping Troubled Kids and Teens

Therapy Dogs Helping Troubled Kids and Teens

Faithful and with the ability to love unconditionally, this is what is considered man’s best friend, the dog. And, as if that were not enough, this pet, so popular in homes around the world, can be the best therapist for children and adolescents. Aware of this, in two hospitals in our country dog therapies are carried out aimed at people with various problems , some as serious as cerebral palsy. The results are encouraging.

With the collaboration of Purina and the CTAC (Center for Assisted Therapies with Dogs), a therapy with dogs is being tested at the Hospital Clínic and the Center d’Educació Especial Pedralbes to improve the lives of children with various problems.

Marc, 13, is one of the patients. He has been treating Tourette’s syndrome and a generalized anxiety problem at the Clinic for more than a year. After each session with the dogs, the child leaves calm, relaxed and happy. “He is quite introverted, however, after being with the dogs in therapy, he always talks about what he has done and how he has played and interacted with each one of them. This shows that he has definitely had a positive experience,” explains his mother. “When I go in, I’m a little more nervous. But when I go out I am very relaxed, because I have a great time, I love being with them and it relaxes me a lot”, says Marc himself.

Maria has mobility difficulties . However, he forgets about them as soon as he sees these particular four-legged therapists. The girl caresses them, combs them and is happy. It is not necessary to encourage her or guide her in therapy, she does it alone without any problem.

Sofía is 6 years old and suffers from irreversible cerebral palsy . He goes to the Center d’Educació Especial Pedralbes to carry out his session with dogs. The therapy calms her down, calms her breathing and she is able to follow the instructions that are given to her. It is, for her, a moment of total relaxation.

Dog therapy is like a miracle . Many times it is difficult to get boys and girls to open up and find a comfortable place to express themselves. On the other hand, with dogs, for the simple fact of having one, they already feel in their comfort zone, where they touch it, caress it and its defenses are destroyed. Thus, the therapies are much simpler for them, but at the same time beneficial”, explains Laia Sastre, social educator at the Hospital Clínic children’s and youth day hospital.

Children with ADHD, fetal alcohol syndrome, post-traumatic stress, autism spectrum disorder also participate in Clínic therapies… The project, which lasts two years, began in 2020 but had to be stopped due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 19. The objective is to obtain data about the impact of this type of therapy to improve self-esteem, self-confidence and social skills, as well as to regulate the expression of emotions and behavior. It also seeks to collect qualitative data on the assessment made by the therapists themselves when including a dog in therapy. The results of this study on animal therapies in children and adolescents with neurodevelopmental disorders will be communicated throughout 2022.

Dog therapies have also reached the realm of eating disorders . In 2018, the Niño Jesús University Children’s Hospital in Madrid, together with the Rey Juan Carlos University (URJC) and the sponsorship of Purina, presented a study that sought to assess the positive effects that canine assistance could generate in young people suffering from anorexia and bulimia. The study consists of 18 weekly sessions with young people between the ages of 13 and 17 who receive treatment at the Niño Jesús Eating Disorders Unit (UTCA). The goal is to improve self-esteem and sociability and reduce anxiety and other depressive symptoms, especially in those adolescents who suffer from moderate or severe cases of eating disorder. The study is now in its second phase and the results will be presented this year.

Dog-assisted therapy is also being tested in schools, child development centers and nursing homes. For years they have been a very useful tool for treating people who need physical, social, emotional and cognitive help. Thanks to them, to therapy dogs, the lives of many people improve day by day. We have no doubt that they are man’s best friends.

 

If you want to see the video with the real testimonials go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6G30ouhK8jM

Reference: Purine. 2022. Pets, the great support of the little ones in Hospitals (Press Release).

 

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