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Dogs—The Ultimate Comfort in Mental Health

For decades, dogs have been trained to perform a variety of functions. Some help those with physical challenges, hearing and seeing loss. Dogs help find lost people in the woods or mountains, or buried in rubble from a natural disaster. They also bring comfort to those in institutions such as nursing homes and elderly day-care centers. Another great thing people are doing with dogs is helping kids with problems reading out loud.

In areas of mental health, dogs can create a safe place just by being in the room. The presence of dog can be calming because of their nonjudgmental and loving nature. The comfort derived from touching a dog is unmistakable. To understand the value and degree dogs can play on mental health, we have to look no further than the case at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Following the horrific murders on February 14, therapy dogs were brought into the school the first day the kids went back.  

Specific mental health benefits are associated with the use of therapy dogs. They can decrease a woman’s anxiety, increase her sense of comfort and safety, play a significant part in reducing loneliness, enhance her self-esteem and confidence, increase her prosocial behaviors, and decrease behavioral problems. That is, with the caveat, of course, that some women are afraid or allergic to dogs.

A new study offers information on just how helpful and hopeful therapy dogs can be for students while preparing for and dealing with the stress of exams. As it turns out, this is especially the case with women. A survey of 246 college students was taken just before, after, and then 10 hours after they hung out with 12 therapy dogs during exam week. The findings showed students who played with the dogs still felt better hours later. Even as many as 10 hours after playing with the dogs, some students reported slightly less negative emotions, feeling more supported and less stressed. This was compared to students that didn’t participate in the therapy dog session.

Women who own or have owned a dog can attest to how much they gain from having them around. In recovery, the unconditional love a woman receives from a dog can help bring her out into the open, meet new people and walk the path of lasting sobriety.

Extend your treatment and recovery process with Villa Tranquil, a women’s transitional living home and program in Jupiter Farms, Florida. We provide structure, safety, and support, giving women have the chance to continue healing and growing after primary treatment. Call us today for information:  (561) 294-0427