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Lilith the Therapy Dog

Dogs in Therapy

Therapy dogs are dogs that have been trained and to provide comfort, support, and companionship to people in various settings, such as hospitals, care homes, schools, and prisons. They can help improve the physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing of the people they visit, as well as reduce stress, loneliness, and anxiety.

What are the benefits of therapy dogs?

Therapy dogs can offer many benefits to the people they interact with, such as:

  • Improving mood and happiness. Petting, cuddling, and playing with a therapy dog can release endorphins and oxytocin, which are hormones that make us feel good and reduce pain. Therapy dogs can also make people smile, laugh, and feel more positive.

  • Reducing stress and blood pressure. Therapy dogs can help lower the levels of cortisol, which is a hormone that causes stress, and blood pressure, which is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke. Therapy dogs can also help people relax and cope with challenging situations.

  • Enhancing social and communication skills. Therapy dogs can act as ice-breakers and conversation starters, helping people to interact with others and build relationships. Therapy dogs can also help people with autism, dementia, or learning difficulties to express themselves and improve their language skills.

  • Boosting self-esteem and confidence. Therapy dogs can provide unconditional love, acceptance, and support, which can help people feel more valued and confident. Therapy dogs can also help people achieve goals, such as reading aloud, completing tasks, or overcoming fears.

  • Providing physical and mental stimulation. Therapy dogs can encourage people to be more active and engaged, which can improve their physical and mental health. Therapy dogs can also help people with memory loss, depression, or anxiety to recall positive memories and experiences, and to focus on the present.

A British bulldog puppy called Lilith.

How are therapy dogs different from service dogs?

Therapy dogs and service dogs are both types of assistance dogs, but they have different roles and requirements. Here are some of the main differences:

  • Purpose. Therapy dogs are trained to provide comfort and companionship to various people in different settings, while service dogs are trained to perform specific tasks and assist one person with a disability or medical condition.

  • Access. Therapy dogs are only allowed to enter places where they are invited or permitted, such as hospitals, care homes, schools, and prisons, while service dogs are allowed to accompany their owners anywhere they go, such as shops, restaurants, and public transport.

  • Certification. Therapy dogs need to pass a temperament test and a health check, and register with a therapy dog organisation, while service dogs need to undergo extensive training and certification by a recognised service dog organisation.

  • Identification. Therapy dogs usually wear a vest, a bandana, or a tag that identifies them as therapy dogs, while service dogs usually wear a harness, a jacket, or a badge that identifies them as service dogs.

To learn more about the benefits of therapy dogs, you can also check out these resources:

  • The healing power of pets - an article by Dr Christine Rhodes, a lecturer in counselling and psychotherapy at the University of Derby, and an owner of two therapy dogs, Jock and Skye.

  • All About Therapy Dogs - a guide by Pets4Homes, a UK pet classifieds website, that covers the history, types, and requirements of therapy dogs.

  • The benefits of having a dog in the therapy room - an article by Julie Howard, a counsellor and psychotherapist, and an owner of a therapy dog, Rolo.


Nicola -  " The mere distraction of Lilith in the room can often be enough, we will just do what we would normally do but with a dog in the room, on the chair with you, playing with her or she may even settle on your lap while we discuss what ever we need to in the session. This is a normal session with no additional steps just having Lilith present can speed up the relaxation, the honestly and ultimately the progress of the session.
She's also pretty cute!

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