Maybe the best therapist has a cold nose and a wagging tail.

Pet therapy in children's Foster care in Virginia in 2020

Wagging tails helping children in Virginia foster care.

The age of service dogs in Foster care.

When thinking about healing kids in Foster care following removal, many children will enter into a therapeutic relationship with a traditional therapist; in a few Child Placing Agency, now a new therapist has been added one with a cold nose and a wagging tail. We can see the positive results every day when a furry team member joins a child in need during any interaction with a therapist or a team member. I think I have always known this…. I didn't understand what I knew. During my childhood, our family always had a dog who was always my best friend. My dog was my playmate. The only period in my life that I was without canine companionship was during the years of my undergraduate and graduate studies. Then I would offer my services to take care of other people's dogs. Dogs have always provided me security and calm, as well as unconditional love. In my work with Jax, I have found that he can give potent mental health benefits to both the children we serve and their families, as well as our staff. He assists us, humans, in coping with anxiety, depression, stress, and even trauma.

During my research for this blog, I came across an interesting piece from HelpGuide : Some of the highlights are as follows:

  • Not only do children who grow up with pets have less risk of allergies and asthma, but many also learn responsibility, compassion, and empathy from having a dog or cat.
  • Unlike parents or teachers, dogs are never critical and don't give orders. They are always loving and their mere presence can help provide a sense of security in children. Having a dog can help ease separation anxiety in children when mom and dad aren't around.
  • Having the love and companionship of a dog can make a child feel important and help them develop a positive self-image.
  • Kiddos, who are emotionally attached to their dogs, are better able to build relationships with other people.

Studies have also shown that dogs can help calm hyperactive or overly aggressive children. Of course, both the animal and the child need to be trained to behave appropriately with each other.

Children and adults alike can benefit from playing with dogs, which can provide a source of calmness and relaxation, as well as a source of stimulation for the brain and body. Playing with a dog can even be a doorway to learning for a child. It can stimulate a child's imagination and curiosity. The rewards of training a dog to perform a new trick, for example, can teach kiddo's the importance of perseverance. Caring for a dog can also offer another benefit to a child: immense joy.

Some children with autism or other learning difficulties are better able to interact with dogs than people. Autistic children often rely on nonverbal cues to communicate, just as animals do. And learning to first connect with a dog may even help an autistic child in their interactions with people.

Dogs can help children with learning disabilities learn how to regulate stress and calm themselves, making them better equipped to overcome the challenges of their disorder.   Playing and exercising with a dog can help a child with learning disorders stay alert and attentive throughout the day. It can also be a great antidote to stress and frustration caused by the learning disability.

I didn’t know what I knew, but I know it now.

Please learn about the solution to help a child today, thank you 

Foster dog in group therapy


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