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Dog therapy: What is it? What are its benefits?

Terapia con perros: ¿Qué es? ¿Cuáles son sus beneficios?

Lobo Azul |

Dogs are considered excellent companion animals. Without a doubt, having a loyal, fun and affectionate four-legged friend is a great way to end a hard day at work or enjoy a weekend of rest and walks. These special characteristics of what is considered man's best friend have earned it a privileged place not only in different homes, but also in other areas, such as medicine.
therapy dogs
Currently, medical science has included dogs as an invaluable option in the treatment of different psychological disorders. This is because their company and interaction with humans is considered an aspect that can improve the health of those who need it. This process has been recognized as Animal Assisted Therapy ( AAT ). In this case, with dogs. But what is dog therapy ? When is it applied? What are its benefits? Although it is a medical phenomenon that has been around for some time and has been gaining acceptance, there are people who are unaware of dog therapy. For this reason, in the following text we will describe the most relevant aspects about this practical process, emphasizing the benefits it provides, thanks to the assistance of these friendly pets.

What is it?

That some animals, especially dogs, participate in complementary therapy to improve the health of some people may seem like a far-fetched idea. However, it has been possible to demonstrate the healing effect that the assistance of these pets can provide through therapy. To begin with, Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) consists of a psychological process in which an animal intervenes to carry out a direct interaction with the patient; on this occasion, reference is made only to dogs.
Animal Assisted Therapy
Within therapy, the dog is a key point in communication with the patient, because it remains close to him. Different studies have shown that dogs by nature are affectionate, friendly and show constant signs of affection, which is beneficial for a person in a depressed state, for example. In the search for emotional balance, improving health and well-being, the benefits offered by dog ​​therapy are notable, because in addition to being a communication link between the patient, this process is very pleasant for all those involved, as it becomes in a reciprocal manifestation of affection as the therapy progresses.

Who is Dog Therapy for?

Although there is no specific list of people to whom this type of therapy is directed, different studies have proven its usefulness in the following cases:
  • People with Alzheimer's
  • People with HIV
  • Autistic children
  • Cases of depression or anxiety
  • Older adults in a state of loneliness
  • Self-esteem problems
The use of this therapy in patients with the aforementioned conditions has become very frequent, demonstrating the positive results that are obtained thanks to the interaction that occurs between the participants.

Objectives of this therapy

The objectives pursued by this therapy are closely linked to the benefits it achieves. However, we will see the latter in depth later.
goals of dog therapy
The objectives focus on achieving a series of skills that, on their own, it is difficult for the patient to acquire:
  • Strengthen self-esteem
  • Improve autonomy and independence
  • Promote interpersonal relationships (and communication with other people)
  • Create a sense of responsibility
  • Strengthen social relationships (empathy, interest in others)
  • Encourage the performance of specific motor activities independently
  • Control anxiety
  • Reduce depressive states
Specifically, these are the objectives pursued by dog ​​therapy . It is important to remember that currently this therapy is used as a complement within a set of treatments and interventions carried out by specialists to treat any of the conditions mentioned above. The benefits of therapy with dogs will depend largely on the perseverance and willingness that people bring to this process.


We have reached one of the most relevant points within this information, and that is to know the contributions that this type of therapy has managed to achieve. Thinking that this therapy only provides psychological benefits is a very common mistake. The scope that this process has had within other fields of human life has been various, which is why it is worth mentioning them separately.


To cite the benefits of dog therapy in this area, we will look at a brief example: Suppose a patient goes to an appointment with the psychologist because he feels lonely. Within the conversation, the specialist talks to you about this process and invites one of the dogs used in the therapies to enter the office. The animal sits at his feet, the patient begins to pet him, he responds by wagging his tail, and he continues after realizing that he liked it. 20 minutes pass like this and then the dog leaves. When this happens, the patient will realize that he no longer feels as sad as at the beginning, the emptiness faded with the company of this little friend who occupied his attention during those minutes .
benefits of dog therapy
This is one of the most notable benefits of this type of therapy : avoiding loneliness. And also:
  • Reduces depression and anxiety
  • Encourages physical and social contact
  • Fights Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (especially in children)
  • Practice link building
  • It is a motivation and mental stimulation technique

Psychomotor skills

Something as simple as stroking, brushing or going for a walk with the dog causes excellent benefits for the patient such as improving motor skills, strengthening coordination, enhancing motor skills and keeping the main muscles of the human body in shape.
complementary therapy to improve health


Learning through games, learning about cooperation and teamwork. Acquiring skills and, above all, essential social skills such as respect, empathy, cordiality, communication and collaboration are some of the most basic.


Through the work of the senses, the strengthening of hearing, sight and touch will be carried out.


One of the main benefits of dog therapy is its wide versatility, which makes it adaptable for any situation. It can be done in a group or individually, depending on the characteristics of the patient and the perception of the specialist in each case. There are no limitations to carrying it out other than the person's willingness to improve their state of health and well-being .
dogs to improve health

To end

Without a doubt, the dog can become more than an adventure companion, it can be a support in the most necessary moment and a strength to maintain our state of health and well-being. Although it may seem insignificant, the presence and help of a dog can make a difference in a moment of sadness and, even more so, bring great benefits to our lives in a simple and very practical way.

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