Therapy for Dogs

By Becky Shuttleworth

Therapy for Dogs

We’re living in an age where we are becoming more aware of our own mental health and wellbeing, and furthermore we are acknowledging the role our dogs play in this.

We are finding ways for our dogs to take part in more of the activities that we enjoy. Dog cafe’s are popping up everywhere with dog friendly coffee’s and cakes, Doga classes are advertised alongside regular Yoga, we can buy matching outfits and buy them birthday and Christmas presents. We are humanising our dogs more and more each day and yet we still treat them like dogs when it comes to their emotions and behaviour?

If we had severe anxiety or anger issues we would see a therapist and yet if a dog demonstrates these emotions we just call someone in to train it out of them? If our dogs are intelligent emotional beings that we treat as part of the family don’t they deserve the same support as us?

Our dogs are highly emotional beings and feel all of the same emotions that we do and as a result they often become affected by emotions much in the same way that we do. Unfortunately the way that our dogs express how they are feeling is usually through an undesirable behaviour such as barking, whining, growling, chewing etc.

All of the typical ‘undesirable’ behaviours that we complain about as dog owners and want to rectify, such as jumping up or excessively barking, are just their way of expressing how they feel about something in that moment.

It’s important to note at this stage that the type of behaviour doesn’t correlate to the type of emotion the dog feels it is just their natural form of expression. The dog doesn’t choose the method of expression. For example, a dog rarely chooses to bite when it’s frustrated or angry and dig when it’s excited. If its natural tendency is to be a biter then it will bite regardless of the emotion it is feeling and if it’s a digger then it will dig, the only difference may be the intensity of the action, so the bite may be softer or the length of time they dig may vary depending in the type and strength of the feeling.

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