In a time when everyone resorts to capsules to relieve their pain, a new form of treatment is growing in popularity. Across the world, dogs are being used to help people cope with mental and physical hindrances. Therapy dogs are a subcategory of service dogs; they undergo extensive training and can help people cope with mild to major disabilities. In addition to the trained dog, everyday puppies and adult dogs are used to help treat depression. Caring for a dog promotes a sense of responsibility and provides companionship for those who need it most. So how exactly can a dog be used as a treatment for depression?
Dogs are utilized in two main ways to help with depression. The first way dogs can help are when they are trained for that purpose. Therapy service dogs are highly trained, but they do not always belong to the person suffering from a disability. Instead, a handler takes the dog to different facilities to spend time with many patients. Dogs that belong to the patients live and act as everyday household pets, except they are taught additional tasks such as retrieving medication. In the case of depression, the dog is trained to respond to the different moods of the patient. For instance, if the owner is sad or in tears, the dog knows to cuddle, lick away the tears, bring tissue, and initiate a game or other form of play. If the owner is stuck in a mood of apathy, the dog resorts to physical stimulation by trying to get the owner to pet or play. Depression is not the only psychiatric problem in which dogs can help people cope. Dogs are trained to help treat social phobia, post traumatic stress, schizophrenia, and obsessive compulsive disorder among other things.
The second way a dog can be used to treat depression is very simple; depression can be treated starting with adopting a dog. Since dogs are lifelong companions and require a certain amount of responsibility, adopting a dog is sometimes recommended for people suffering from depression. Although these dogs will not be trained to respond to certain moods (though many claim that they naturally respond to the owner’s emotions), they do have a calming and spirit-lifting effect. The treatment process starts from the time you bring the dog home. Taking care of the dog gives a person suffering from depression something to do; the person finds responsibility in taking care of an animal rather than focusing on the gloomy things. The dog acts as a companion, since depression can be spurred by loneliness. The owner has someone to talk to, share feelings, and play with. Since the dog is a typical dog, it begs for attention and exercise. Exercise has also been found to help people cope with depression. In essence, taking care of a pooch provides the owner with something to fill the time and a friend with which to spend time. If you’ve ever watched a puppy in action, you also know how funny they can be. Laughing is almost necessary in lifting one’s spirits.
Dogs are not only used to treat serious problems; even someone looking for a little company can benefit from the companionship of a pet. If you feel that a dog can lift your spirits, visit your local animal shelter and consider rescuing a puppy. If you decide to adopt a pet, remember that you must take care of the pet and provide him with love and care. He needs a comfy place to sleep, food at every meal, and daily exercise. It’s not always easy to train and care for an animal, but it is completely worth it!
Although dogs have not been cited with curing depression, they have been praised for helping people cope with the disorder. They visit nursing homes and psychiatric wards and give the patients a chance to interact, cuddle, and play. They live in peoples’ homes and help keep the owners on track. Dogs are still a responsibility, so anyone who wishes to adopt one must be willing to provide the pooch with love, care, and a safe home. Just having a companion to laugh with can make a huge difference on your mood.