Therapy Dog Awareness Month | Guide Dogs NSW/ACT

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30 August, 2018

Therapy Dog Awareness Month

Therapy Dog Ollie wearing her orange coat

We all know that the bond that forms between a human and an animal can be life-changing.

For over 30 years, Guide Dogs NSW/ACT has proudly offered a community service called the Pets As Therapy (PAT) program. The program places carefully selected dogs with people who may be disadvantaged due to age, illness, disability or isolation and who may benefit from the companionship that is provided by a loving canine companion. Like all of Guide Dogs’ services, PAT dogs are provided at no cost to the person.

As September is National Therapy Dog Awareness Month, Guide Dogs NSW/ACT would like to take this opportunity to recognise all the life-changing services our Therapy Dogs have been able to provide to people in difficult, stressful or traumatic situations.

A Milestone for our Therapy Dogs

This year in particular has been big year for our Therapy Dogs. The PAT Program was able to expand to NSW Courthouses through the Canine Court Companion Program, which allows our Therapy Dogs to make a person’s visit to a court less stressful.

This marked a big milestone for the PAT Program and we hope to continue to expand our services to the wider community.

What do Therapy Dogs do?

Therapy Dogs are different from Guide Dogs in the way that they are trained to interact with humans. Therapy Dogs provide comfort and companionship animal-assisted therapy through engaging with people, responding to their needs and providing companionship and comfort with lots of pats and cuddles included.

The Guide Dogs NSW/ACT PAT Program carefully matches clients that can benefit from a Therapy Dog with a specially trained PAT Dog that matches the client’s needs and circumstances. These circumstances can range from behavioural, emotional and mental health conditions, physical disabilities or isolation caused by age or illness.

Benefits of a Therapy Dog

PAT Dogs are able to improve quality of life by creating a sense of community and well-being, encouraging routine and commitment, and of course providing non-judgemental and unwavering friendship which can provide the following benefits:

  • Improvements in mood 
  • Reduce feelings of stress and anxiety
  • Reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation
  • Reduce feelings of sadness and depression
  • Increase mental stimulation and reduce feelings of boredom
  • Increase self-esteem
  • Increase willingness to participate in interactions and activities
  • Shifting a client’s focus and improving their outlook on life

It is evident that Pet Therapy can lead to happier, healthier lives and it’s time to celebrate the great job that our PAT Dogs do!