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Therapy Dogs (II) - Opening New Portals

26 May 2014 | by Adnan A Khan | Posted in: Wag Wiki

With the hope of encouraging all owners towards a happy and responsible pet ownership, giving dogs something to do makes them both physically and mentally satisfied. As we were discussing in the first article on Therapy Dogs ( A Journey To K9irvana), their utilities towards mental rehabilitation and development are endless. In this sequel of the series, let us explore the types of Animal-based therapies that are around, as well as the popular facilities in India and internationally. 

Types of Therapy dog programs

Although this concept as a certified medical practice is still very new all over the world, the types of animal related therapies have been broadly divided into two types: 

AAT (Animal Assisted Therapy)

This type is the actual therapeutic kind which mostly involves rehabilitation of the body and mind and covers a larger basis of applications towards humans. 

The practical applications established so far are already numerous and it is quite exciting to see where the scope of things takes us. Some of these are so amazing that it will most likely strike a tear in one’s eyes. 

Cancer patients recovering from chemotherapy almost always go through tumultuous times, both physically and mentally. Studies have shown that most cancer patients experience an immense downward spiral both physically and mentally; and the presence of a dog even for a few moments in a day can make a tremendous impact on the patients’ mood. 

Similar case can be conjured for army veterans who have been traumatised by various war-ridden scenarios including battle wounds and bereavement. The result is that a large number of soldiers face PTSD in addition to the acquired disability while fighting for their country. For the ones who do not need a service dog, having a therapy dog either with them or visiting them makes an impact for their will to function in the normal world away from the battlefield.

AAA (Animal Assisted Activities)

This concept is more directed towards people, especially children with difference in ability like autism, dyslexia or ADHD. Also kids with certain mental disorders like depression, anxiety,down syndrome and some personality disorders benefit from this form of therapy. 

Animal-assisted activities involves helping children feel more comfortable in performing basic tasks like reading, writing, drawing and talking; where some of them might be shy in expressing themselves amongst their peers and elders. 

Having a dog present while a child reads to him has displayed some outstanding results in many cases where both parents and teachers of a child have termed him under some mental disorder and start treating the poor kid as a patient with a debilitating illness. 

What most people fail to understand that some people hide their inner issues better than others. And obsessing over trying to “be normal” is a highly damaging and conformist view. This ideology harms more cases than doing good. 

Both these types are inter-related and not exclusive to each other. AAT and AAA can be performed in cohesion as well as replace each other subjective to the scenario. 

Therapy dog facilities 

International Facilities

There is a plethora of international therapy dog programs and facilities and the trend is fast catching on. Most prevalent in the US of A, these extremely divine initiatives are mostly voluntary with very little or no profit involved.

TDI or Therapy Dog International is a program in New Jersey established in 1976, which is now a prominent brand name in this variance of research. They are now involved in not just advancement of the program but also into research to establish more empirical studies and inform the world around us.

Delta Society, now known as Pet Partners is also an inception in the mid 1970’s which is now so established that they provide various programs within the animal therapy. In addition, they offer online courses towards certification and gentle handling as well. They have a range of exquisite animals as their house mascots providing access to various strata of society

Facilities in India

Although India is still in a very nascent stage of realising opportunities in the realm of therapy with animals, there are a few limited but well established organizations.

Blue Cross of India is an NGO in Chennai, which started a therapy dog program in 2002 by the name of Dr. Dog.

Animal Angels is a fully dedicated animal therapy program in West India (Mumbai and Pune) started by qualified psychotherapists (names) who now boast more than 20 volunteer dog and handler teams in the vicinity.

Read Therapy Dogs (Part - I)


Wow! This is great insight. Thank you Adnaan for bringing us such marvellous insights.

By: Rahul Bunty | 26 May 2014

Adnan Khan
Thanks Lawrence! Please share with your friends. And keep yourself posted on our blogs for more interesting reads :).

By: Adnan Khan | 27 May 2014

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