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Dogs: Much more than just house pets

January 23, 2014
by Shannon Brys, Associate Editor
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I love animals – always have and always will. Anyone who has ever had a cat or dog living with them knows that the animals seem to have a certain sense for when you are feeling down about something. Dogs make great companions and they are super loyal, which is great for anyone who is going through recovery from mental illness or addiction and feels as if they are "alone." 

About a year ago, I wrote an article on our sister publication Behavioral Healthcare's website which talked about treatment centers using dogs to assist people who suffer from mental illness. Addiction Professional has also covered Capstone in the past, which is a treatment center for young men in Arkansas that provides a labrador puppy to each patient when they arrive to treatment. The patient is to raise the puppy in treatment -- feeding it, cleaning its kennel, and participating in Canine Therapy one hour each day. Upon graduation from the program, the patient takes the dog home with them so the two can continue to support each other outside of treatment.

Recently, someone posted a link on our LinkedIn page that again had to do with dogs helping people through challenges. This time, it was for PTSD, and more specifically, military veterans. The dogs are trained to help guide people out of nightmares, and to help them cope with difficult situations. 

According to the National Center for PTSD, reasons why dogs make great companions for people with PTSD include:

  • Dogs can help bring out feelings of love and caring.
  • Dogs are loyal and make good companions.
  • Dogs take orders well when trained. For someone who was once in the military and was used to giving orders, this can be very comfortable. 
  • Dogs are playful and fun and can help reduce stress.
  • Dogs create a good reason to have to leave the house, spend time outdoors, and perhaps meet new people.

I'm curious to learn more about this topic. Do any of you work with dogs in your treatment centers? If so, what types of patients seem to benefit the most from canine therapy? Do you disagree with this modality of treatment? I'd love to hear your thoughts! Email me at sbrys@vendomegrp.com or leave a comment below. 

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Shannon Brys