The benefits of therapy dogs in schools are not limited to students alone. Teachers and staff can also benefit from the presence of therapy dogs in schools.
For instance, having a therapy dog in the classroom can help teachers reduce their stress levels and promote their overall well-being. Teachers can also use therapy dogs as a tool to connect with students and improve classroom dynamics.
Moreover, therapy dogs can also serve as an excellent resource for school counselors and mental health professionals. These professionals can use therapy dogs as a part of their treatment plans to help students cope with various mental health conditions.
Therapy dogs can also serve as a bridge between students and mental health professionals, making it easier for students to open up and share their thoughts and feelings.
It’s essential to note that not all dogs are suitable for the role of a therapy dog. Therapy dogs go through specialized training to ensure that they can handle the stressors and stimuli present in school environments. Therapy dogs need to be well-behaved, obedient, and well-trained to provide the best experience for students and staff.
Furthermore, schools must have proper protocols and procedures in place when introducing therapy dogs into their environments. These protocols should outline how to handle the dogs and ensure that they receive proper care and attention. Schools must also ensure that all students and staff are comfortable with the presence of therapy dogs and have the option to opt-out if necessary.
Therapy dogs have been making their way into schools across the country and for good reason. These trained animals provide a calming presence and help students overcome emotional and mental hurdles. In this article, we’ll explore six ways therapy dogs in schools help students succeed.
Reducing Stress and Anxiety
One of the most significant benefits of having a therapy dog in school is the reduction of stress and anxiety in students. With academic pressure and social expectations, students can quickly become overwhelmed. Therapy dogs offer a comforting presence that helps students feel relaxed and calm, reducing stress levels.
Several studies have shown that interacting with dogs can lower cortisol levels, the hormone responsible for stress. When students pet or play with a therapy dog, their bodies release oxytocin, a hormone that promotes feelings of calm and well-being. This chemical reaction helps students feel more at ease and less anxious in school.
Boosting Social and Emotional Skills
Interacting with therapy dogs can also help students develop their social and emotional skills. For instance, therapy dogs can help shy or anxious students feel more confident in social situations. When a dog is present, students may feel more at ease when interacting with their peers, helping them develop stronger social skills.
Therapy dogs can also help students develop empathy and emotional regulation skills. By caring for and interacting with a therapy dog, students learn how to manage their emotions and develop a better understanding of others’ feelings. These skills can be beneficial throughout their academic and personal lives.
Encouraging Physical Activity
Therapy dogs can also help promote physical activity in students. Engaging with a dog can encourage students to get up and move around, which can be especially beneficial for students who spend much of their day sitting in class. Therapy dogs can also help students with physical disabilities by providing motivation and encouragement to participate in physical activities.
Improving Focus and Attention
Dogs can be incredible companions for students, providing not only emotional support and comfort but also practical assistance when it comes to writing essays.
Dogs can help to create a calming atmosphere that can make it easier for students to focus on their work. They can also provide a sense of companionship and motivation, encouraging students to keep going when they feel overwhelmed or stuck.
For example, taking a break to play with a dog can help to refresh the mind and improve cognitive function, which can lead to more productive writing sessions. Furthermore, simply talking to a dog about one’s ideas and thoughts can help to clarify and organize them in the writer’s mind, leading to more coherent and effective writing.
Overall, having a dog by one’s side while writing an essay can help to reduce stress and anxiety, provide emotional support and motivation, and even improve cognitive function and writing effectiveness. For these reasons, dogs can be a valuable asset to any student looking to write an essay without worries and stress.
Creating a Positive Environment
Therapy dogs can help create a positive and welcoming environment in schools. When students feel comfortable and happy in their school environment, they are more likely to be engaged and motivated to learn. A therapy dog’s presence can help create a warm and welcoming atmosphere that encourages students to feel good about their learning experience.
Providing Support for Students with Special Needs
Finally, therapy dogs can be especially beneficial for students with special needs. For instance, therapy dogs can provide support for students with autism or sensory processing disorders. Interacting with a therapy dog can help these students feel more comfortable in social situations and reduce anxiety and stress.
Additionally, therapy dogs can provide support for students with mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety. These dogs can provide emotional support and help students manage their symptoms.
Therapy dogs in schools offer numerous benefits to students, teachers, and staff. They can help reduce stress and anxiety, boost social and emotional skills, encourage physical activity, improve focus and attention, create a positive environment, and provide support for students with special needs.
Schools must ensure that they have the proper protocols in place and that therapy dogs receive the appropriate training to ensure a safe and positive experience for all. With the right approach, therapy dogs can be a valuable addition to any school environment.