Behavioral counseling focuses on human behavior and how to eradicate maladaptive or unwanted behavior. Counselors apply this therapy on people who have behavioral problems involving practices that society considers unwanted.
People in need of behavioral therapy can find help through therapy dogs. You have probably heard stories of dogs that help the elderly in nursing homes, children who get bullied in school, or children during chemo treatment. Dogs offer support to vulnerable individuals.
What Are Therapy Dogs?
Therapy dogs are dogs that have volunteered to sit with individuals who need affection and comfort. These dogs receive training on how to fulfill this function. They work to ensure they improve the mental, physical, and emotional health of vulnerable people.
Therapy dogs started helping the vulnerable since ancient Greek times. Quakers in the 1700s would use them to bring love and joy to
individuals with mental health disorders.
How Does the Behavioral Counselling Work With Therapy Dogs?
Florence Nightingale had numerous theses about how pets can make people learn new skills, feel better, and become healthier. Growing scientific research over the years has proved these theories to be correct.
Petting and interacting with animals releases serotonin and dopamine. These happy hormones lower cholesterol and blood pressure and teach individuals to have empathy. According to a Harvard study, dogs can relieve people of anxiety, fear, and stress.
Characteristics of Therapy Dogs for Behavioral Counselling
While you may think that any dog can qualify as a therapy dog, some do not qualify. Below are some of the characteristics that the dogs must have:
- Intelligent – Therapy dogs need to be smart enough to read people to know if their patient wants to play or stay calm.
- Focused – Therapy dogs work in busy and turbulent environments. For this reason, they need to be able to focus on their tasks without getting distracted.
- Well-trained – Well-trained dogs make the best therapy dogs.
- Sociable – Dogs that get social anxiety around other people or animals are not suited for this role.
- Calm – Therapy dogs know when to be jumpy and when to have a neutral temperament.
- Gentle – Your dog may be friendly but unaware of its strength to injure patients like children. A therapy dog should be tender so that its patients do not fear it.
- Easy when touched – Some dogs snap when touched because they have trigger spots in their bodies. Dogs that love to be touched make the best therapy dogs because they do not scare patients off.
- Clean – Therapy dogs often offer their services in clean environments such as nursing homes and hospitals.
Popular Breeds That Make Good Therapy Dogs
Some of the most popular dog breeds used for behavioral counseling are:
- French Bulldog.
- Yorkshire Terrier.
- Border Collie.
- German Shepherd.
- Cavalier King Charles.
- Labrador Retriever.
- Golden Retriever.
Traits Your Dog Should Have for Behavioral Counseling
Therapy dogs need to have qualities that can offer vulnerable people emotional support. All these kinds of dogs have a loving and gentle temperament as a common factor. All therapy dogs should be patient and prompt to commands. Having all these ensures the safety of the dog and the client.
For more on therapy dogs, visit Bergen County Veterinary Center at our office in Waldwick, New Jersey. You can also call 201-205-2500 to book an appointment today.