Anyone who has owned a pet knows the joys that animals can bring to our lives! The impact of that camaraderie has documented physical and mental health benefits that are just now being explored more scientifically. The human-animal bond, for example, has already been shown to reduce stress, increase patience, improve social skills/confidence, reduce depression and anxiety (by elevating serotonin and dopamine), promote responsibility and improve executive functioning, boost immune response, lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and lead to fewer doctors visits and greater longevity.
Petting, holding, brushing, cuddling or playing with a loving animal can rapidly calm and soothe us when we’re stressed. The companionship of a pet can also help us feel connected, ease loneliness, and be a great stimulus for healthy exercise, (which can substantially boost mood!).
In our middle school and high school group work, we include several sessions dedicated to pet (specifically, canine) therapy. In addition to lots of fun interaction with happy dogs, the therapy implements life skills related to confidence-building, good decision making, building healthy relationships, boosting self-esteem, increasing self-advocacy, and improving communication.
Please check out this Pet Therapy Organization with whom we have collaborated recently:
Hudson Valley Paws for a Cause
For additional information about the therapeutic value
of animals please visit these links: