Monday, 14 April 2014

6 Ways Dogs Relieve Depression

1. Dogs offer a soothing presence

Patting a dog can help to lower blood pressure. Pet owners have significantly lower blood pressure and heart rate both before and while performing stressful mental tasks. People recovering from heart attacks recover more quickly and survive longer when there is a pet at home. It seems as though their mere presence is beneficial.

2. Dogs offer unconditional love and acceptance

In a Johns Hopkins Depression & Anxiety Bulletin, Karen Swartz, M.D. quotes a recent study where nursing home residents in St. Louis felt less lonely with some quiet time with a dog alone than a visit with both a dog and other residents. People often prefer four-legged friends to two-legged ones because we can divulge our innermost thoughts and not be judged or quoted…

3. Dogs alter our behavior

When agitated dogs can help people alter their behavior. We calm down when we are with our dogs. We slow our breath, our speech and our minds. We don’t hit as much at others or remain annoyed at ourselves.

4. Dogs distract

Pets are like great movies or books. They take us out of our heads and into another reality, one that involves food, water and affection; being less in your own head and thoughts.

5. Dogs promote touch

The healing power of touch is undisputed. Research indicates a 45-minute massage can decrease levels of the stress hormone cortisol and optimize your immune system by building white blood cells. Hugging floods our bodies with oxytocin, a hormone that reduces stress, and lowers blood pressure and heart rates. And, according to a University of Virginia study, holding hands can reduce the stress-related activity in the hypothalamus region of the brain, part of our emotional center. The touch can actually stop certain regions of the brain from responding to threat clues. It’s not surprising, then, that stroking a dog can lower blood pressure and heart rate and boost levels of serotonin and dopamine.

6. Dogs make us responsible

With pets come great responsibility, and responsibility and promotes mental health. Positive psychologists assert that we build our self-esteem by taking ownership of a task, by applying our skills to a job. When we succeed, for example, looking after your dog’s needs, we reinforce to ourselves that we are capable of caring for another creature, as well as ourselves. That’s why chores are so important in teaching adolescent’s self-mastery and independence.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Whiskey the Deaf Therapy Dog

Meet Whiskey, an Australian Shepherd, who is a certified therapy dog AND he's deaf!

“My name is Whiskey. They found me at the dog pound almost 3 years ago. I was going to be put to sleep because no one wanted a deaf dog. Now I am a Therapy Dog, who volunteers at different places – from children that are hurt and injured to children & adults with special needs.”
You can follow all of Whiskey’s adventure on his dedicated facebook page:
Whiskey the Deaf Therapy Dog, a Page for Special Needs Animals 

Funeral home dogs help comfort grieving families

The dog has become an invaluable tool for the funeral home in helping local families deal with their grief. Some people even ask to bring the dogs with them to the cemetery, providing them with some comfort while they visit the burial site of a loved one.

"Our experience has shown that people can let go totally when they interact with a dog. The dogs are just there, to pet, to hug and to cry on," said Ursula Kempe, president of Therapy Dogs International. 

"Their calming, loving presence can help during times of extreme grief. There is no need to talk, just to feel. The dogs can give what humans cannot."
While therapy dogs have become common in hospitals, mental health facilities and schools, G.H. Herrmann is unique in using certified therapy dogs in its funeral homes.

Herrmann came up with the idea about using therapy dogs in his funeral homes after a discussion with a long-time friend. Kevin Knartzer, director of training and canine development at Bargersville Veterinary Hospital, trains service dogs for the disabled.

One afternoon, Knartzer stopped by the funeral home to see Herrmann. He had brought Lady, a golden retriever he was training. A family was planning the funeral of their father and grandfather who had died. But once the dog stepped into the room, the small children stopped crying and focused their attention on Lady.

"They're planning for their grandfather's funeral, and they're crying. Then all of a sudden they see a dog, and they smile, their eyes light up and they felt better," Herrmann said.

He and Knartzer immediately seized on the potential good that a therapy dog could provide.
"It lifts people's spirits. Dogs give people a chance to take a break from their biggest worry and really have a moment to think of something else," Knartzer said. "People almost transfer their feelings to the dog. It gives them that respite for a moment."

The program at G.H. Herrmann started tentatively. Herrmann was concerned that while some people might enjoy having a dog present while they planned a funeral, others would complain. But after three years, he has yet to hear anything negative about the program. G.H. Herrmann now features four dogs, which split time between the three Herrmann locations.
  • Jax a laid-back black Labrador
  • Lady is the diva of the group
  • Birch loves to catch the Frisbee 
  • Gracie is the latest arrival
Each dog has a handler who takes him or her home at night, feeds them and cares for them. All of them work for the funeral home. Each of the dogs has become a celebrity inside the funeral homes. Funeral director April Williams has seen how people have latched onto the dogs, coming back months and even years after a funeral to see the dog that comforted them.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Do you know your dog's welfare needs

There are five key welfare needs for dogs:


The need for a suitable environment (place to live)


The need for a suitable diet


The need to express normal behaviour


The need for to live with, or apart from, other animals


The need to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and diseas

Dog icon

Welfare worries for dogs

  • Loneliness - dogs are highly social animals, yet 8% of dogs are regularly left alone for more than 12 hours at a time. Another 15% are regularly left alone for eight to 12 hours. And 39% of dogs have no other animals to keep them company while owners are out.
  • Lack of exercise and socialisation - dogs need daily walks outside the property, and regular socialisation with people and other animals. This ensures they remain physically and mentally healthy. Yet 63% of dogs do not get walked daily. 62% of dogs didn't attend 'puppy preschool' socialisation classes.
  • Obesity - up to 40% of dogs are overweight. 48% of owners feed their dogs treats at least once a day. Obesity can cause major health problems such as diabetes, and can reduce quality of life and shorten lifespan.
  • Lack of preventative vet care - 15% of dogs are not vaccinated against common diseases, 6% aren't treated for fleas and 7% aren't wormed.
  • Toxic treats - 3% of owners feed their dogs chocolate as a treat, 3% feed them grapes, and 17% them cooked bones as a treat.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Dogs ‘n’ Kids Information Resource Kit

A resource kit for health professionals promoting dog bite prevention and 
socially responsible dog ownership - 3rd edition

Dogs ‘n’ Kids began in 1997 as one of the first initiatives in Australia to specifically address injuries to small children from dogs. 

It was developed by The Safety Centre at The Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia in conjunction with other child safety units, the Children’s Injury Prevention Working Party, local government authorities and maternal and child health services with information and funding from Petcare Information and Advisory Service (PIAS).

Now in its 3rd edition, dogs ‘n’ kids has twice been extensively reviewed in 2001 and 2009 with the assistance of child injury, safety and dog behaviour experts. 

The Dogs ‘n’ Kids Information Resource Kit is part of an overall strategy to empower health professionals, parents and children with information to reduce the incidence and severity of dog bites to children and to manage safe, close and enjoyable interactions between children and pet dogs.

Download this free resource here...

Monday, 31 March 2014

The Lost Dogs' Home Human Walking Program

Feeling stressed and penned in your office cubicle? When was the last time you left the office to get some fresh air, let alone left your desk? Well, you’re not alone!
Studies have shown the average working hours of full-time employees in Australia are long and have been steadily getting longer which is contributing to extra stress, poor family relations and a lower quality of social relationships.
In a bid to encourage healthy living with a companion animal, on Fri April 4 The Lost Dogs’ Home will host the first Human Walking Program at Flagstaff Gardens.

The Lost Dogs’ Home General Manager of Fundraising and Communications Kate Hoelter said shelter dogs will be helping get Melbourne office workers out from behind their desks and into the fresh air.
“Dogs are a widely known stress reliever and companion. We are thrilled to offer CBD workers a much needed outdoor break with our wonderful dogs up for adoption."
 “We don’t always realise as office workers how many hours we spend cooped up inside rarely getting out. So what better way to spend a lunch break than with a friend who will no doubt take the stress out of your day?”
Ambassador Mike Larkan said the event was another great way to encourage people to consider adoption when getting a dog and to support the work of The Lost Dogs’ Home.

“It’s a fantastic way to motivate people to get outside during their breaks and also meet firsthand some of the wonderful dogs up for adoption at the Home. I will be down there on the day taking some the dogs for a walk, doing Give-a-Dog-a-Home and enjoying the fresh air,” said Larkan.
Adoptable dogs of all ages, temperaments and breeds will wait patiently to take office workers out for a walk, or have a quick, playful pat before you head back to the office.Logo_Lockup_final
“It’s going to be a great opportunity for our dogs – who knows perhaps they may find their perfect walking and life companion?” Ms Hoelter said.
“A Lost Dogs’ Home volunteer will accompany each dog on their walk and talk to you about considering adoption first as well as the benefits of dog walking.” 
The Human Walking Program will run from 11.00am to 2.00pm with food vendors, music and information on adoption also available.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

PAWS (Parents Autism Workshop Support) - Free webinar from SCAS

If you have an interest in the human-animal bond and how pets can help children with autism then this free webinar from SCAS will be of interest to you.

The PAWS project from Dogs for the Disabled brings together the parents and carers of children with autism to share experiences and to explore the helping potential that a pet dog might have within their family.

The free 45 minute webinar will take place on 17 June 2014 at 1.00pm BST

For more details and to register to attend this and other related webinars please visit the AAI webinar series webpage.
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