therapy dogs reduce stress
Image via the Alliance of Therapy Dogs Facebook


Therapy dogs come in all shapes and sizes and perform all sorts of services nowadays. They raise confidence levels and lower stress, giving comfort and security to all who come into contact with them. They’re frequently assigned to returning veterans experiencing PTSD, courthouses where witnesses regularly testify and comfort patients in hospitals and nursing homes that need a little TLC during extended stays. Their uses have become varied to cover a broad range of needs.

Dog Listeners

In November of 1999, a program in Salt Lake City, Utah, called Dog Days Afternoons that featured five dogs and one cat began. This pilot program was designed to improve the reading levels of children. It was, at the time, a bit of an experiment, but it turned out to be a remarkable success. Now there are programs in states like North Carolina as well.

Many children with reading difficulties suffer from a lack of confidence and low self-esteem. The concept was that the kids would practice their reading with the animals there to listen. While initially thought “whacky,” within weeks the turnaround in behavior and reading skills was clearly evident.


dog days afternoons reading program
Dogs boost confidence levels in kids


Airport Therapy Dogs

If you travel by air much you know how stressful it can be. From planning and packing, to getting yourself out the door and to your gate on time can take a lot of fun out of a trip. Because of the growing increase in agitation and hostilities among passengers, a brilliant idea was struck upon for a way to lower stress levels in those getting ready to take to the skies. That idea was Pet Me dogs.

Maybe you’ve seen them. Beginning in San Jose, CA, shortly after 9/11, there are now 30 airports across the country that provide Pet Me dogs for harried passengers, and carriers are seeing a difference.


pet me dogs at airports
Pet Me dog  (image via Alliance of Therapy Facebook)

Animal Success Stories

Interacting with animals has shown to be an excellent way to reduce stress, which in turn lowers blood pressure and improves personal outlook. The kids that have the benefit of library or school programs that incorporate therapy dogs into reading programs feel better about themselves and in turn have more confidence to apply themselves to reading.

Stressed out passengers take one look at these sweet, lovable animals wearing their bright blue vests and they just want to pet them, instantly bringing a smile to their face.

Making a Difference

Due to the increase in programs involving therapy dogs, more and more programs like these are looking for individuals to take part in them. The neat part is that not all of them require dogs raised from pups to perform the job. Many of them merely require animals with even dispositions that do well with people.

If this sounds like something you’d be interested in and you’ve got an animal that fits this description, check with your local airport, county library or educational system and see if they need help. Hospitals and nursing homes are also great places to start making a difference.

Do you know of other programs like these involving therapy dogs? If so, share them in the comments section below.