There is nothing better than coming home to my pets after a stressful day. Research has proved that animals can improve health, relieve stress, lower blood pressure, reduce anxiety and more. This is true for everyone, children and seniors as well. And any animal can be used for stress relief- dogs, cats, guinea pigs, horses, fish, etc.
I had a client last week who is developmentally delayed and has apraxia. Although this child is verbal, his intelligibility is extremely poor. The child was so frustrated and the only thing that could calm him down was counting to 10 while petting my therapy dog. This simple task would rejuvenate the child and he was once again ready to attempt activities that were a struggle for him.
For us pet owners, we may not see the benefits, but they are there. Pets don’t judge or discriminate, they will love you unconditionally. Children can easily feel this love and they are more comfortable around animals. An activity that is too overwhelming becomes more palatable with a dog sitting next to you.
I also have two guinea pigs and they are often more motivating and rewarding to children than my dog in treatment sessions. When children hold the small creature, they are instantly put at ease.
If you are thinking of adding a pet to your family, please consider adoption. There are too many wonderful pets in shelters that get looked over because people want a puppy or believe they can’t train an older dog. I adopted two senior dogs, one at age 8 and one at age 10. They both went on to pass their Canine Good Citizen test from the American Kennel Club and one has become a therapy dog! There are also plenty of small animals in shelters too! Check out www.petfinder.com to search by type of animal, breed, age, location, etc.
When I am stressed, all I have to do is pat one of my pets and the day does not seem so daunting after all. :)
Here are a few articles stating the reseach of animals and stress relief!