From goats to donkeys, therapy animals can reduce the stress in your life.
The term therapy animal is usually associated with well-trained dogs walking alongside their owner, waiting for their next command. But, did you know that animals of all kinds that have good dispositions can be calming for their owners?
And while you might not take your goat or donkey to dinner with you, they can be beneficial by keeping you calm during periods of stress. Animals are known for lowering blood pressure, calming anxiety disorders and increasing communication and self-confidence in children. In fact, raising or having access to animals with peaceful dispositions can be beneficial to both children and adults.
Training your therapy animal
Most animals can be trained to do basic commands. Goats can be trained to respond to a clicker. The variety of training techniques for various animals can range from hand signals and clickers to voice commands. Most animals can be trained to come when called, heel like a dog, back up on command and pull wagons or carts if you need minimal physical assistance.
Training animals of all species is similar. Start by feeding in the same spot at the same time each day. The animals will learn to wait for you. Once the animal becomes trusting of you, add treats to your regimen. Give a command and when the animal responds as directed, give a treat. Just remember that different species enjoy different treats. The most important thing to remember when training a therapy animal is to keep to the basics. Their job, in many instances, is to be soothing and reinforce safety and security.
The positive impact of therapy animals.
When animals demonstrate a calming behavior that is reliable or predictable, their human patients can rest assured knowing that they are in a safe environment. The animal should inspire confidence in the person and solicit interactions with people. A relaxed animal that enjoys being petted and touched and that remains calm in distracting situations are excellent therapy animals.
Therapy animals are not service animals. They do not require certification and are not protected by the American Disabilities Act. However, therapy animals run the gamut from donkeys to goats and from llamas to dolphins. Most pet lovers already experience the benefits of animal-assisted therapy and can vouch for the positive impact their pets have on their lives. Because therapy animals are not focused on one patient like a service dog, they can be enjoyed and assist multiple people at one time.
Next time you find yourself walking and talking to your animals, remember how good it makes you feel to know they are listening. Your heart will thank you later.