Bringing therapy dogs into schools or college campuses has become increasingly popular. These four-legged furry friends are sought after due to the many benefits they offer. Student or teacher, you could benefit greatly from an on-campus therapy animal.
Unfortunately, there are many barriers involved in having animals in the classroom (whether therapy or service dogs). Educators can’t bring their furry friends from home to school without first filling out a stack of paperwork.
Why aren’t all schools open to therapy dogs on campus?
There are a few reasons, among them:
- Individuals may be allergic
- Students or teachers may be afraid of animals
- Having a therapy dog may affect cleanliness
Despite the amazing therapeutic perks brought forward by these animals, schools and colleges are not obligated to allow them. However, several campuses and schools are starting to realize the huge importance of ESAs, consequently, letting them be a part of the classroom and student lives.
Whether you teach in an elementary or high school, a therapy dog offers many opportunities for students. Keep reading to learn more!
Physical and Mental Health Benefits
Therapy dogs offer students and educators alike physical and mental health benefits. They help students facing mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, ADHD, and many other health disorders.
It’s often that emotional challenges are the result of physical health issues. The dogs help with these too! If you’re a teacher looking to provide pet therapy to your students, you’ll be happy to hear about the physical health benefits the animals provide.
A therapy dog can help students become:
- More comfortable in the classroom. This works especially well at the beginning of a new school year since students are likely to be a little nervous.
- Less stressed. Did you know that the simple act of petting a dog reduces stress levels? Not only will students become less stressed but have lower blood pressure.
- More focused. The reduction of stress levels and anxiety offered by therapy dogs will help kids be more physically present during school. Plus, being able to play with a puppy helps boost the physical well-being of students.
Not only do therapy dogs provide physical positives to students in schools and on campuses, but the animals also boost mental well-being. The pressure on young pupils in school settings is intense, and many young people need external coping tools to get through with their best foot forward.
A therapy dog can help students learn social skills and prevent social isolation. The gentle and kind nature of therapy dogs allows young people to bond easily with the creatures. The bonds lead to a decrease in aggressive behavior and aggression in schools, in most cases.
Did you know that interacting with a therapy dog improves students’ problem-solving skills, reading skills, and even stimulates memory? Developing one’s cognitive skills is a huge plus of having a trained therapy dog on campus.
On campuses, the time spent with them keeps college students motivated and focused on major assignments. Consequently, they’ll get the most out of each lesson.
If your students are young, you might wonder about the positives that could come out of bringing a therapy dog to school.
The use of therapy dogs in elementary school classrooms can help students immensely. It can help a student gain confidence and bring them out of their shell. Consequently, they offer a calming presence for the students who are probably reading in a group for the first time.
Having an animal in the classroom helps young individuals who could potentially be struggling at home or outside of school. Plus, the puppy helps bring students and teachers closer together and helps build trusting and deep bonds. However, teachers need to assess whether a therapy pet might present too much of a distraction and challenge compared to its therapeutic benefit.
The positives of bringing a therapy dog onto a college campus cannot be ignored. Students are most likely away from home for the first time, and the stress of assignments, making new friends, and adjusting to life at a new school can be intense.
The presence of an ESA can help reduce the anxiety and depression of young adults trying to figure out their futures.
Students have reported increased happiness and energy after attending group therapy dog sessions. Plus, the dogs bring groups together who previously wouldn’t meet, potentially leading to new friend groups and connections.
Therapy Dogs Help Children with Autism
Behaviors in the classroom can be unpredictable – every student is different and responds uniquely to a classroom setting. A therapy dog offers calming effects to kids with autism. They reduce stress levels, which is a major challenge among autistic children.
Some advantages autistic children will receive from an ESA include:
- Increased Social Engagement. Children with autism find it difficult to socialize with those around them. A therapy dog helps break the ice and encourages them to mingle with their classmates.
- Companionship. Autistic children have trouble making eye contact and forming a bond with others. Therapy dogs quickly bond with children – it’s one of their many abilities! This will slowly help the child become comfortable with their classmates and teacher.
A therapy animal might help certain learners with autism feel more comfortable in the environment and more open to social situations. With the dog at the child’s side, they could potentially be less likely to engage in compulsive behaviors or actions.
Therapy animals can be useful to students by assisting with their emotional health. The college campus can be a difficult and stressful place to navigate and a therapy dog could potentially make a huge positive impact.
Contact ESA registration today to see therapy dog products or to set up a session for an emotional support animal assessment.