Therapy dogs have been active in schools for some time. Teachers and administrators
have witnessed the effects therapy dogs have on students and themselves.
The benefits of having therapy dogs in the classroom include:
Physical benefits. Interaction with therapy dogs has been shown to reduce blood pressure,
provide physical stimulation and assist with pain management.
Social benefits. A visiting therapy dog promotes greater self-esteem and focused
interaction with other students and teachers.
Cognitive benefits. It has been empirically proven that therapy dogs stimulate memory
and problem-solving skills.
Emotional and mental health benefits. A recent national survey of adolescent mental
health found that about 8 to 10 percent of teens ages 13 to 18 have an anxiety disorder.
A therapy dog can lift moods in the classroom, often provoking laughter. The therapy
dog is also there to offer friendship and a shoulder to lean on for students.
How Have Therapy Dogs Been Used in Classrooms to Help Children with Autism?
The classroom can be a stressful and overwhelming environment due to social challenges
and peer pressure. Therapy dogs can reduce the effect of this allowing a student
with autism to feel more at ease and open to social behaviour.
Researchers have found that people with autism are more social when playing with
therapy dogs as opposed to toys. New research offers further proof that animals can
also have a therapeutic effect.
The kindness and the gentleness of therapy dogs help young people with autism simply
by being there.