Helping people with companion dogs

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Using animals in therapy has a long history, actually dating back to the 18th century in England. Today it is becoming much more established, with animals such as horses, cats, rabbits and of course dogs, being used in many situations.

AAT is basically a form of physiotherapy, often related to psycho-social behaviour. What this means in normal words is that it’s a way of using dogs to help people be more socially aware, as well as helping develop fine motor skills.

Children’s hospitals and homes for senior citizens are common places to bring the specially trained dogs. Since the dogs can help against feelings like loneliness and depression, it’s particularly useful with sensitive patients. Having a friendly dog around to play with can be a meaningful activity that helps people who might be prone to apathy. And it’s also fun!

All the dogs used in AAT are chosen because of their temperament, not by breed. Any dog that’s good with people can become a therapy dog, after the right training. The dog needs to allow people to stroke and touch, sometimes clumsily. In some cases the dog will be with a patient on their bed or even wheel chair, so they need to be able to sit still in possibly uncomfortable situations.

The dogs also need to be in good health, both physically and mentally. Feeding the right nutrition is important for all dogs, which is why Hill’s have a full range of nutrition to keep you dog healthy, whether it be small or large, old or young.

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