The Therapy Dog Difference
Our therapy dogs Honey and Maisy aim to reduce, or in some cases eliminate, certain anxiety symptoms associated with dental visits. It has been scientifically proven that the relationship between therapy dogs and their patients significantly stimulates emotional support, which in turn increases psychological health!
Therapy dogs differ from service dogs in that they do not share the same rights to access, such as places of businesses that do not allow dogs to enter. Therapy dogs are usually confined to medical or educational institutions. A therapy dog’s work focuses on several objectives, depending on the condition and the kind of assistance each person requires. In our office, Honey and Maisy assist in the following:
-Bringing relief and lowering stress intensity
-Communication of feeling and emotion
-Decreasing blood pressure levels
-Stimulating social interaction
There is quite a bit of effort that goes into becoming a proper therapy dog-Honey and Maisy have had copious amounts of training and hard work to become the therapy dogs they are today! Therapy dogs must have a happy, stable temperament, with friendly, easy-going personalities. After much socialization and interaction with all kinds of different people, they must pass a certification test authorized by the AKC. If you encounter a therapy dog that does not have their certification test completed, then they are not quite yet a true therapy dog, though they may be in training!
In a study conducted by Stefanini MC, therapy dog utilization for children with mental disorders experienced positive changes in behavior, motivation, and overall functioning. Amongst the pediatric population as a whole, therapy dog use has been shown to clinically reduce cortisol levels, and a decrease in pain level perception of up to four times less great than patients who did not have a therapy assistance dog!
Perhaps the most beneficial improvement that Honey and Maisy bring is promoting good oral health and long-lasting practices. It is estimated that up to 80% of Americans experience some form of dental anxiety, which can lead to missed appointments, potentially detrimental oral health complications, and a cycle of avoidance, incomplete procedures, and more intensifying procedures. The reduction in cortisol, blood pressure, and stress that a therapy dog brings leads to more consistent appointments and visits, less physiological stress while in the office, and a relaxed environment which makes children eager to return! That is our utmost goal: for our patients to have regular, preventative and stress free dental care. Thank you Honey and Maisy for all that you do!
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