Here at Gudog, we understand the positive impact that doggos have on our lives; they’re calming, unintentionally hilarious, and they always seem to know when we need a cuddle.
Dogs really do have empathy – it’s in the National Geographic and everything – so it’s unsurprising that dogs are being used more and more frequently by medical practitioners to help those in both mental and physical distress.
Assistance Dogs UK
Assistance Dogs UK is an alliance of eight UK charities, which train and provide dogs to provide physical and mental support for those in need.
These charities train dogs to provide day-to-day assistance for people with physical disabilities such as blindness of deafness. These dogs help their owner perform tasks they might otherwise find difficult, and increase their confidence, independence and social abilities.
Support Dogs and Dogs for Good match those with autism with a canine companion. Support Dogs also provide dogs for those with epilepsy, and they train the dogs of those with physical disabilities to better support their owner. They rely 100% on donations, and you can read more abut their incredible work here.
UK charities Pets as Therapy and Mayhew send their volunteers’ therapy dogs into care and residential homes, hospitals, hospices prisons and day centres across London and the rest of the UK to engage with residents, provide companionship and brighten up their days.
In children’s hospitals, doctors have noted that children talk directly to the dogs as they have excellent listening skills, and show their human companion unconditional love. We suppose that makes alot of sense; when humans show affection, it involves expectations and judgements, whereas with a dog it’s a totally non-challenging interaction with no consequences. You just can’t beat a puppy cuddle.
Melody below, is a Siberian Husky and a qualified Therapy Dog in Puerto Rico. And you can read all about Arlo, A PAT (Pets at Therapy) dog in the UK, here.
Emotional Support Dogs
Petting a dog has been proven to decrease levels of stress hormones, regulate breathing, and lower blood pressure. Research also shows that stroking a doggo releases ‘oxytocin’ – a hormone associated with bonding and affection – in both the human and the pooch. Great all round!
Emotional Support Dogs are prescribed by a licensed mental health professional to a person with a disabling mental illness, such as extreme anxiety. The idea being that it will not only give them that oxytocin boost, it will give that person meaning and structure in their life.
Disaster Relief Dogs
Disaster Relief Dogs played an incredibly important role in helping the survivors of the 9/11 attacks heal following their ordeal. Since then, they’ve been used widely in the US to support victims and rescue workers following natural disasters.
After the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy a team of therapy dogs were brought in as ‘professional comforters’. Nine trained golden retrievers and their volunteer handlers spent time visiting schools, churches, activity centres, and private homes in the community.
While any breed of dog can make the cut, these pooches must have a naturally calm disposition, comfortable in all kinds of environments and with all types of people. They also need to be extensively trained by special handlers before they can be put to work.
Dogs for stress relief
Life these days is hectic, and alot of us don’t have the time or the space to care for a canine pal. Plus, we at work basically all. the. time.
The good news is that now you don’t even need to own a pooch to get some quality doggy time in your life. You could become a Gudog walker or sitter, and get paid to hang out with dogs of all shapes, sizes and ages.
Or, if you’re in London you can now get unlimited fluffy hugs in between meetings with The Cuddle Club which has recently run events with staff from Stylist and The Guardian.
Launched by the founders of London Dog Week, The Cuddle Club team take their Dog Squad into workplaces to de-stress and mood-boost staff. According to one of their clients, Perkbox, a whopping 65% of employees believe that having dogs at work supports their physical and mental wellbeing, as well as their productivity levels. A further 72% believe dogs are particularly useful for supporting those that get easily stressed at work or are very shy, encouraging them to get chatting to others.
Where do we sign up?
There you have it. Dogs worldwide are lending and ear, and a belly, and a waggly tail in lots of inspiring and wonderful ways to help people in need.
Even if they’re not helping the masses, your dog can definitely help you achieve mindfulness. Check out Dog Furiendly’s blog on the topic.
It’s important to remember to look out for your dog’s mental health too – check out Dog Furiendly’s tips on how to keep your pooch in tip top mental shape.
To support any one of the amazing charities mentioned in this article, simply click on the links provided.