Many people have mental health issues that require assistance. In some cases, human assistants can’t be there at every hour for someone with issues such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, agoraphobia, and other stress-related disorders. Occasionally, the suffering would prefer an animal companion – they are much less stressful to deal with than a human companion in a lot of ways. They don’t judge you, they are easier to take care of, you don’t have to pay them for their services, and they are constantly with you to provide unconditional love.
Here’s an interesting problem that therapy dogs are used to help fix – when children undergo trauma that reduces their trust in adults or other children, such as abuse from a parent or bullying, well-trained dogs are used to help them rebuild trust. Many toy breeds are used for this purpose – they are small enough so that the children undergoing therapy don’t feel threatened. When the child interacts with the animal, they often roll on their back in a submissive position, and allow the child to stroke their belly. When a dog, something children generally perceive as threatening, allows the child to pet it, it makes the child feel like it can trust other individuals.
Caring for a pet can improve self-esteem and reduce stress in adults as well. It can provide emotional support around the clock – when you feel lonely or stressed, you simply call your dog and it can crawl into bed with you or go for a late-night walk to lower your heart rate and relax you. That’s an advantage dogs have over human companions – they’re obedient and always eager to help. They provide a very protective, predictable, dependable love for all people.
Dogs can help with very serious conditions. According to mentalhealthdogs.org, service dogs can help with conditions like Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Panic Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Generalized Anxiety Disorders, Mood Disorders, Acute Anxiety Disorder, Asperger’s Syndrome, Agoraphobia, and Autism Spectrum Disorders. When you have these conditions, you know how difficult coping with the stressful side effects can be. It’s a lot easier to cope when you always have a friend by your side at all hours of the day, calming you down and relaxing you without enabling your behavior.
The service dogs have other purposes, too. They’re so well trained that they can remind you to take your medication, provide a shield for you in crowded places, wake you up for work or school, search your house for you, stand behind you to help with hyper-vigilance and fear of being sneaked up on, guard your house, and help prevent flashbacks if you have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder by bringing you into the here and now with their presence.
All service dogs, big or small, are heavily trained by professionals. They receive extensive evaluation before being assigned to a patient, so there is no fear of the dog turning on you and trying to attack at all.
Service dogs are a great choice for someone who has a disorder that causes them to undergo heavy stress on a daily basis, regardless of what disorder they have. They even provide specialized treatment for people with certain disorders. They’re trustworthy, reliable, inexpensive, protective, and help their owners navigate through life while not enabling their disorders.