Paws with Purpose: How Pet Therapy Helps Children and Adults Heal

Young Girl Being Visited In Hospital By Therapy DogUndeniable affection and their amazing ability to learn are just a few of the many wonderful aspects of our canine friends. For the dog lover, the significant emotional and physiological benefits of the human-dog connection is nothing new. It is incredibly exciting to see research that supports and affirms this basic truth: interacting with an animal can be healing.

A study by Rebecca Johnson, Ph.D., RN, of the University of Missouri-Columbia Center for the Study of Animal Wellness, illustrated that when we interact with a pet, such as petting our dog, we experience an overall sense of well-being. This is largely due to what takes place in us physiologically as the body produces more “feel good” chemicals, such as dopamine, oxytocin, and endorphin. Studies conducted in the 80s concluded that heart attack survivors who owned a dog lived longer than those without – and, that simply petting a dog can lower blood pressure.

While we all consider our own wonderful pooches to be exceptional and perhaps even therapeutic to us, for a dog to be classified as a service dog, specific criteria and rigorous training must be met to teach these dogs the skills they will need to be a therapeutic partner. Continue…

The Well-Behaved Pooch: Best Practices in Dog Training

“Get back here!”

“No, no, no… No, Riley, no!”

“Mac, drop it. Drop it, Mac. Maaaaaaaac!!”

iStock_000021930272_LargeThere’s perhaps nothing as annoying as listening to someone yell at his or her dog, who has decided to explore or eat something, roam or simply misbehave. Yet, at every park or campground, we often hear the familiar and droning scolding of a pooch on the loose.

Likewise, it can be frustrating to be that pet owner scolding away at your pet… But there is hope.

Ideally, you have had the opportunity to start your dog training classes when your pooch was a puppy, generally beginning at 10-12 weeks of age (an ideal time for behavioral training and socialization). However, the reality is, many of us adopt dogs who have not been trained or exposed to dog parks and other social places. Many shelter dogs or rescues have been subjected to stressful environments where behavioral challenges and fears can be developed. Continue…

School Season Blues: How to Help Separation Anxiety in Pets

iStock_000015693942_MediumAll summer long, your kids and their best four-legged friends have bonded over trips to the park, lazy days by the pool, and sprints across the lawn. Now you and your family have turned your attention to papers, pencils, new clothes, and busy schedules as the alarm clock announces another crazy day ahead. In the hustle and bustle, though, your pets may find themselves having to adjust to all of the changes the back-to-school season brings.

Although we think of the new school season in terms of our children’s adjustment to new classmates, classes, and experiences, it is important to remember that pets often suffer from some separation anxiety and stress in response to the change in routine.

While these shake-ups in family schedules are unavoidable, there are some ways you can help acclimate your pet to their flipped routine and make the process less daunting for your furry  family member. Continue…