Help Your Dog Overcome the "Back-To-School Blues
Parents and youngsters aren’t the only ones having adjust to a new schedule every fall. Just as kids grow accustomed to the care-free days of summer, dogs get used to the constant attention and play time that a child’s constant presence brings. Many dogs will adjust quickly to the change when school begins again, but those prone to separation anxiety may look for ways to lash out.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Dr. Nick Dodman of Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine recommended the following tips to help ease the transition between summer and the school year:
• Make departure time happy using toys and treats
• Create a place in the house where the dog feels safe
• Try starting the routine before school begins
• Do not indulge with baby talk or sympathy
• See a veterinarian if the dog’s disposition doesn’t improve
With a little advanced planning and a few tweaks to you and your dog’s morning routine, you can keep your dog relaxed and content while his favorite playmate is gone for the day. Before you know it, your dog’s “back-to-school blues” will be a thing of the past.
Addiction Therapy: Nuzzles and Pats Help Heal
Sometimes, all you need to feel better is a good belly rub. That is the core belief behind animal assisted therapy, an approach to healing that pairs human patients with dogs, rabbits, horses, dolphins and even monkeys or llamas.
A Therapeutic Relationship
For people recovering from addiction, the type of attention, affirmation and unconditional love that sometimes can come only from an animal is a very important part of their healing process. According to the Addiction Recovery Guide, there are many benefits to the interaction between patients in recovery and their furry companions, including lowered blood pressure and heart rate, increased beta-endorphin levels, decreased stress levels, reduced feelings of anger and anxiety, improved social functioning and increased feelings of empowerment, trust patience and self-esteem.
Treatment Centers Recognize Benefits
It is not unusual to see animal assisted therapy listed among the programs offered by addiction treatment centers. The Ranch, a facility in Tennessee, takes animal-assisted therapy one step further with their program called "Animal-Assisting Therapy for Addiction," which focuses not only on patient benefits, but on the benefits participating animals receive as well. Deviating from therapy programs which use specially trained animals, The Ranch pairs recovering addicts with homeless, abused and abandoned animals. The program coordinators believe that caring for an animal with a similarly wounded spirit intensifies the redemptive effects of the therapy, resulting in physical, emotional and psychological improvements for both the patient and the animal.
At Alta Mira in California, patients are offered equine therapy and are allowed to bring their pets with them while they undergo treatment. Although Alta Mira acknowledges that the hard evidence of animal assisted therapy’s benefits is still scant, anecdotal evidence at their treatment center has led them to conclude that "animals play a key role in the healing process."
Animal-assisted programs are not limited to treating people who are fighting addiction. The therapeutic benefits of a wet nose rubbing against your hand and a playful scratch behind the ears can help people facing many types of emotional, physical and psychological challenges, including post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, autism, cerebral palsy, high blood pressure and social phobia.