If you’ve ever had a dog, you know what it means when someone refers to them as “man’s best friend.” Their calming, playful, and captivating attitude inevitably affects the atmosphere. Our therapy dog program has only been in place for a little over a year, yet it has already had a profound effect on the morale and mental health of our staff and kids.
An international epidemic, political unrest, and contentious diversity-related problems provide our staff and students with numerous everyday obstacles. Studies have revealed the harm that today’s reality are doing to students and teachers in the educational system, as well as to their mental health and wellbeing.
The mood and culture of the university are greatly influenced by the teachers. The health and wellbeing of teachers must be our top priority since they have the greatest impact on the achievement and well-being of our students. Unfortunately, there is a record amount of tension and worry among teachers. Increased workload, reconciling expectations for both in-person and remote teaching, ensuring student wellbeing, and juggling work and home life all contribute to teacher stress and burnout. About 48% of women and 37% of men, respectively, showed signs of anxiety and sadness towards the end of November. The National Education Association discovered in August of last year that 28% of instructors stated the pandemic increased their likelihood of quitting their jobs. Like kids, teachers require a support structure to lessen stress and anxiety.
Concerns about young people’s mental health have increased in schools as well. The world is on the shoulders of the students when they enter our buildings. Our pupils go through intense sensations of stress, anxiety, and despair as a result of their exposure to social media, cyberbullying, digital media, violence, and a lot more. Implementing a program to enhance our children’s mental health is essential and required, as 1 in 6 American teenagers aged 617 experience a mental health condition each year, and suicide is the second largest cause of death among persons aged 1034.
Meet Maslow and Michaela McCord, Maslow’s owner and trainer. Intern counselor Michaela works at Midway Middle School. We weren’t aware of the profound impact she would have on our faculty, staff, and students when she first started on our campus.
A year and a half prior to Michaela joining our family, I conducted research and advocated for the development of a therapy dog program. I discovered numerous research demonstrating the beneficial impacts of therapy dogs on students’ intellectual and social development. A dog in the classroom fosters a happy attitude and has considerable anti-stress effects on the body, according to a 2019 National Institutes of Health study. According to a second University of California research on canine reading programs, kids who took part in one program saw a gain in reading fluency of between 12 and 30 percent. So when Michaela revealed to me that she had a therapy dog, I felt this was our chance to start a program.
What’s happening? Maslow and Michaela have had a significant influence on our faculty and students. One student said, “He has helped me a lot!” when asked how Maslow had benefited her. He has made me feel more assured and less anxious. His eyes and grin give you the impression that anything is possible. This student said, “Maslow provides a means for shy students to emerge from their shell. Because he doesn’t criticize me or tell me I’ve done something wrong, I know I can be myself with him. He makes us all happier and gives us something to look forward to at school.
Our students who receive intense behavior support have also been impacted by Maslow. We have noticed a decrease in these pupils’ severe misbehavior thanks to the usage of scheduled Maslow time and incentive prizes to see Maslow. Maslow has given our instructors a way to deal with their tension and worry. Our employees have faced numerous challenges this year, but their spirits have been lifted by our animal friend’s comforting love. Additionally, because of how well our program has worked, our district is considering hiring Michaela and Maslow on a full-time basis.
If you haven’t considered a therapy dog program, I strongly advise you to find a method to welcome a four-legged visitor to your campus. It can and will be advantageous to your staff and pupils. I’ve listed some of the materials and studies I used to launch our program below in the hopes that you’ll find them helpful.
why therapeutic animals should be present in schools?
Schools have been using therapy dogs for a while. The benefits therapy dogs have on both themselves and students have been seen by teachers and administrators.
The following are some advantages of having therapy dogs in the classroom:
physical advantages. It has been demonstrated that interacting with therapy dogs lowers blood pressure, stimulates the body, and helps manage pain.
Social advantages. Greater self-esteem and focused contact with other children and teachers are encouraged by a visiting therapy dog.
cognitive advantages. Therapy dogs have been scientifically shown to improve memory and problem-solving abilities.
benefits for your mental and emotional wellness. According to a recent national study on adolescent mental health, 8 to 10% of teenagers between the ages of 13 and 18 suffer from an anxiety problem. A therapy dog can improve attitudes in the classroom and frequently elicit laughter. Additionally, the therapy dog serves as a friend and support system for students.
What advantages do therapy dogs offer?
People with a variety of health issues can greatly lessen their pain, anxiety, sadness, and weariness with the help of animals
- children getting dental work.
- patients undergoing cancer therapy.
- Long-term care facility residents.
- cardiovascular disease patients.
- dementia patients.
What advantages do therapy dogs offer to college students?
Esha Pathi, a first-year Wharton student, stated at Tannenbaum Quad that even a brief interaction with a therapy dog can assist reduce stress.
She responded, “The weather is great today, but the last two weeks have been incredibly hectic with lots of homework.
Possessing a dog to pet is a great stress reliever. It’s good to see so many folks out here enjoying themselves and taking a break from their duties.
The dogs were donated in November by the Wharton Undergraduate Division and the Alliance of Therapy Dogs for a “Pawsitive Study Break is a component of the Division’s larger commitment to give students study breaks and a method to decompress before exams.
Individually or in small groups, program participants approached the dogs. A therapy dog visited pupils for anywhere between a few minutes and an hour.
“When I started to miss my family and my own dog, this program reminded me of how I felt at home with my dog, which was something I appreciated about it, said Jeremy Calcarian, a first-year Wharton student in a difficult economics program. “It is a great way to decompress and feel good. You may relax and unwind when you come out here with pals.
The Wharton Undergraduate Division is emphasizing student welfare in its attention and programming, according to Lee Kramer, director of student life.
He believes that in order for students to develop and thrive at Wharton and Penn, we want to make sure that we offer our students wellness tools, programming, and activities throughout the year.
The therapy dog event was a fantastic way for our children to relax during a hectic time of the year and build relationships with their classmates as well as with these incredible dogs.
Universities are increasingly offering these programs to help students manage the demands of academic life and mounting workloads.
According to Lauren Powell, a postdoc at the School of Veterinary Medicine, “dogs offer a unique form of social support because they can deliver unconditional affection in a manner that humans often cannot.
Studies have shown that after interacting with a therapy dog, kids generally feel less stressed.
Additionally, therapy dogs can help students feel more a part of their community, cope with homesickness, and reduce anxiety. Powell claims that the way in which our bodies react to enjoyable experiences with therapy animals can help to explain some of this.
“She claims that when we connect with dogs, our heart rate, blood pressure, and cortisol levels often drop and our oxytocin levels frequently rise.
The event’s organizer, Lisa Podolsky, an associate director of student life at Wharton, says she was overjoyed to be able to offer the therapy dogs to the students.
“It can be difficult to stop and breathe during the hectic pace of college.
since there is always work to be done, she claims. “The goal of the therapy dogs was to aid kids in finding balance and emphasizing their health. Students had the opportunity to temporarily let go of their stress and feel joy at this event.
The therapy dogs seemed to enjoy spending time with the students as much as the youngsters seemed to enjoy their time with them. One of the handlers, Susan Kupper-Smith, who trained her 10-year-old dog as a therapy dog, claimed that taking part in Penn’s study breaks gives her dog a fantastic opportunity to learn experiences.
She remarked, “It’s a lovely event to offer her love and counseling talents to help the youngsters escape the pressures of job and school.”
Along with being a chance for us to give back to the community, it’s also an opportunity for learning.
Pros and drawbacks of allowing dogs in schools
Both children and teachers benefit from having a pet in the classroom. If used wisely, animals make excellent additions to a classroom. Children learn responsibility and empathy from pets. You receive a great attraction and built-in teaching tool as a teacher. Together, your class can develop a sense of camaraderie by taking care of an animal. Just be sure to conduct adequate study and consider every requirement.
Why does animal therapy work?
Pet therapy strengthens the human-animal link that already exists. Many physical and mental ailments can be helped by interacting with a lovable pet. It can lower blood pressure and enhance cardiovascular health in general. It may also cause the release of endorphins, which have a relaxing effect. This may lessen tension, ease pain, and enhance your psychological well-being.
There are numerous ways to employ pet therapy. Therapy must have clearly defined goals, and at scheduled sessions, your development will be tracked and recorded.
A pet therapy program may have the following objectives:
- enhancing joint mobility and motor abilities
- enhancing either solo or aided movement
- boosting one’s own esteem
- increased verbal exchanges
- enhancing social abilities
- raising the desire to participate in activities
- enhancing communication with others
- encouraging a desire for exercise
Additional advantages of pet therapy include:
changing your view on life, making you happy, and reducing depression
How do animals aid in learning?
4 Benefits of Having Pets in the Classroom for Students’ Academic Success
- Pets foster empathy and self-esteem.
- Around pets, kids are more inclined to follow directions.
- Pets provide fresh learning opportunities.
- Pets Help to Reduce Stress and Alleviate Anxiety.
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Why is anxiety treated well by therapy dogs?
Dogs make wonderful therapy animals because they are sensitive to human emotion. They frequently exhibit compassion and empathy by nuzzling or groaning when they notice a person is unhappy or suffering from general emotional distress. The goal of therapy dogs is to provide comfort and company to everyone.
Due to their compassionate and loving nature, they offer an additional advantage in the processes of rehabilitation and stress management. Therapy dogs commonly go to places with vulnerable populations, like nursing homes, hospitals, and college campuses, to comfort students and patients who are feeling anxious.
It’s not surprising that therapy dogs are being used in workplaces to assist staff members feel less stressed and more productive. Therefore, their duties include everything from actively taking part in physical therapy to boosting the confidence of kids and adults with mental or learning disabilities.
How can a therapy animal provide more effective social and emotional assistance than a human?
There is much misunderstanding about what an emotional support animal (ESA) is and how furry companions might benefit those who are suffering from mental diseases. Truthfully, there is a lot more to this therapeutic approach than red vests and flight bans, and it’s critical to realize this in a nation where over 20% of the population suffers from a mental illness.
And even if you have the best of intentions, if you fall for any ESA scams that entail downloading a “registration” form that appears when you Google “emotional support animal,” your pet does not become an ESA. Doctors and mental health experts may prescribe ESAs to patients in order to provide the necessary support. The opportunity to fly with a person who has an emotional or psychological disability and the ability to be eligible for no-pet housing are two legal protections that an ESA receives upon certification. People with disorders like anxiety and depression can find healing in their daily lives with this support, despite the stigma associated with ESAs.
Why should service animals be permitted on college campuses?
Many stressors can be added to a young person’s life by the move to college and the cost of an education.
People frequently rely on their friends to help them get through difficult situations. Those with depression or social anxiety who find it difficult to interact with others and form meaningful human relationships may benefit from having emotional support animals.
Laying down for bed with a cat or a dog can assist someone with anxiety sleep better in addition to an animal’s capacity to “simply be there for its owner,” according to O’Saben.
Animals can encourage individuals to exercise, which is essential for reducing the signs of depression and anxiety.
O’Saben cites a case study of a patient whose depression was impacting her academic performance. She was motivated to go outside more after getting an emotional support dog, which helped her depression and ultimately improved her academic performance.
What ways may therapy dogs reduce stress?
Dog owners all over the world are aware of the immediate joys that come with having these furry creatures in their life. However, the most of us are still unaware of the naturally occurring advantages dogs have for our physical and mental health.
Scientists have just recently begun to examine the advantages of the human-canine bond. According to studies, dogs can lessen loneliness, lower stress, anxiety, and depression, promote play and exercise, and even improve cardiovascular health.
On Aug. 26, National Dog Day is observed around the world. As we honor dogs’ therapeutic qualities, we remember how their loving, nonjudgmental nature aids people in achieving greater mental health.
Dog therapy helps a lot of patients with mental illnesses, and it makes sense why. Patients with dementia, Alzheimer’s, depression, PTSD, autism, and other conditions have experienced positive results from dog therapy.
Dogs have evolved to have a keen sense of human emotion and behavior. They can understand a lot of the words we say, but they are much more adept at reading our facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language. A devoted dog will also stare into your eyes, much like a good human companion would, to assess your emotional state and make an effort to comprehend your thoughts and feelings.
Dogs don’t need to express their feelings to you verbally. The tail wag speaks for itself. More than just being the family pet, dogs have many other uses.
Even after only a few contacts, dogs can benefit individuals of all ages in a number of ways. Due to this, they are frequently employed in therapeutic and rehabilitation settings, particularly those that deal with mental illness and substance abuse.
Just by being there, dogs can:
- The hormones oxytocin, which reduces stress, and cortisol, which increases stress, can both be increased by petting or favorably engaging with a dog. Pets can aid children with separation anxiety and social anxiety, according to study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- In the presence of animals, especially dogs, people report feeling less depressed and lonely. They help us stay in the now and divert our attention from worrying or unpleasant thoughts.
- Create opportunities for social interaction. In a research conducted at the University of Warwick in Coventry, England, 65 strangers stopped to converse with a person walking a dog, compared to just three persons who were walking alone.
- Giving a dog a purpose: By feeding and caring for them, we play a significant role in their life. These obligations might help us stay positive and distracted from any negative thoughts by keeping us busy.
- Lower blood pressure: According to studies, people with high blood pressure who own dogs were able to maintain their blood pressure at a lower level during stressful situations than people without pets.
- Encourage them to exercise: Daily exercise is essential for good health. As long as their age and health let them, dogs should also exercise frequently (daily, if feasible). Regular exercise can help both of you physically and mentally, boosting cardiovascular health and lowering anxiety.
Therapy dogs are taught to be kind and accepting of visitors stroking or hugging them. Children who tug at their fur politely ignore them, as do grownups who want the little ones to sit on their laps.
Although they reside in their owners’ homes, therapy dogs can also visit a range of locations, such as nursing homes, schools, hospices, and hospitals.