Posts Tagged ‘service dogs’

By Sue Shekut, MA, Licensed Professional Counselor, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

Image credit: mediumclay http://imgur.com/JibDPTV

Image credit: mediumclay

Dog owners (and veterinarians!) will tell you that dogs are loveable, loyal and great companions. Service dogs have been used as an aid to the visually impaired for many years, acting as a human’s eyes out in the world. Those with emotional expression impairments and traumatic experiences now increasingly use service dogs to allow them to feel a non-judgmental connection with another living being, which can aid in recovery from post traumatic stress disorder. Service dogs also help keep children with autism feel safe and feel a greater sense of freedom and responsibility as the dogs allow the children to interact more easily with other people, according to an article in NJ.com, Service Dogs Can Benefit People Struggling with a Variety of Disabilities.

A new study sheds some light on the attachment between dogs and their owners. According to a study described in Science magazine,  “Comparisons of humans and dogs before and after they interact with each other have revealed notable increases in circulating oxytocin, as well as endorphins, dopamine, and prolactin, in both species.”

Dog comforts little girl.  - image credit: http://imgur.com/ql1pZ

Dog comforts little girl. – image credit: http://imgur.com/ql1pZ

Study authors, Nagasawa and colleagues, note that the changes in oxytocin levels in humans and their dogs as they gaze at each other may be similar to the effect that creates the bond between human mothers and their infants. Researchers posit that possibly one reason assistance dogs are able to help people with autism or post traumatic stress disorder is that oxytocin is increased through partly through this social gazing pathway.

Interestingly, while owners gazing in their dogs eyes increase oxytocin in both the dogs and their owners, female dogs show a stronger reaction to oxytocin effects by gazing longer at their owners when given oxytocin. However, pet wolves  and their human owners do not show the same reactions in oxytocin and gazing at each other.

For those with difficulties in healing from trauma tic events, or communication and social disabilities, service dogs are available. However, untrained dogs can benefit most anyone who wants to feel non-judgmental connection and puppy love!

Image credit: Elena Shumilova, Russian photographer

Image credit: Elena Shumilova, Russian photographer

For more in-depth details about this study and a similar study about dogs human and the relationship of oxytocin, click on this article from The Dodo: Dogs, Humans and the Oxytocin-Mediated Social Bond.

Where Do I Find a Service Dog?

To obtain a service dog in Illinois, contact Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs, or check out the Service Dog Central website for links to other service dog providers and tips on selecting a provider.

Ami Moore, Chicago Dog Coach, from Ami Moore's website www.chicagodogcoach.com

Ami Moore, Chicago Dog Coach, from Ami Moore’s website http://www.chicagodogcoach.com

If you want dog training in Chicago, or to learn more about medical conditions which with service dogs may be used to aid humans, Ami Moore, Chicago Dog Coach has an excellent website and blog. She shares her knowledge about service dogs and children with autism here and about service dogs for those with PTSD here. 

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Dogs at Work

By Sue Shekut, Licensed Massage Therapist, ACSM Personal Trainer, Certified Wellness Coach, Owner, Working Well Massage

Dogs have long been used as Guide Dogs and Service Dogs for people with vision impairment and other disabilities. Seniors also find that dogs and other animals known as Emotional Support Dogs can provide companionship, non-judgmental positive regard, affection, and a focus in life. Now, savvy employers are seeing the benefits of allowing employees to bring their dogs to work. In the article below from Corporate Wellness Advisor.com, Gayle Christopher, Ph.D., explains why.

Take Your Dog to Work?

December 11, 2009
Written by: Gayle Christopher, Ph.D.,

Looking for a no-cost employee pick-me up? Proponents say this perk increases worker cohesion, lowers stress, and that there are few downsides. Dog-friendly workplaces, where well-behaved pets are welcomed to join their owners in the daily grind, are found all over the country.

The majority of companies that allow dogs are small start-up companies that realize the need for a flexible work environment or large high tech firms that allow dogs in order to capture the interest of a prospective employee or to retain their current employees. One survey found that 20% of employers have pet-friendly policies.

Of course, not all pets are well-behaved enough to be welcomed into the work environment. Some are hyper, too vocal, or aggressive. Pets should have decent manners, be house-trained and well-groomed. Owners must responsibly evaluate their own ability to perform when Fido is present and their pet’s shortcomings in human and animal relations. Pet-friendly workplaces have found that most employees will police themselves because they understand that such policies are a privilege and not a right. But setting up rules and enforcement procedures are a must.

Facts from the American Humane Association

  • Staff morale and worker productivity are increased by bringing pets to work
  • Increased camaraderie among employees when pets are in the workplace
  • Happier employees result in enhanced job performance
  • Increase in sales reported by store owners who take their dogs to work
  • Dogs can serve as a crime deterrent

Read entire article from Corporate Wellness Advisor.com here

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