Canistherapy Dogs for life treatment with love

March 7, 2023
Canistherapy Dogs for life treatment with love


The dog is not only a friend, a companion, a guard, an assistant on a hunt or in a pasture. It turns out that four-legged pets still help to preserve or restore health. Canistarapy, or treatment with dogs, is becoming an increasingly popular technique. Medaboutme talks about the secrets of Canistherapy.


Doctor dog

It is interesting how human society would develop if one day our ancestors had not tamed the dog. Who would guard their dwellings from predators, helped on the hunt, pass livestock, warm his body in the cold? Who would lick the wounds if there were no dogs?

Throughout human history, the dog was nearby. Regardless of their size and strength, representatives of the dog tribe have always benefited people. And not only in economic and military affairs – the dogs since ancient times were used to restore health. Relatively recently, treatment with the use of dogs has gained its own name: Canistherapy.

Some archaeological finds indirectly indicate that even in ancient Egypt and in Hellas of Hippocrates, dogs were involved in the treatment of human ailments. In the XVIII century, in the English hospital for mentally ill contained different pets, including dogs, because doctors noticed that communication with pets has a beneficial effect on patients.

Boris Levinson, an American psychiatrist who worked with children, is considered the founder of modern Canistherapy. He noticed that the presence of the dog in the reception and in the office causes positive emotions in children and accelerates the treatment.

Currently, Canistherapy is quite actively used in America and Europe. In USA, this method is only gaining popularity.


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Canistarapy and special children: European rehabilitation experience

Canistherapy and special children: European experience in rehabilitation

Dogs help to achieve noticeable success in helping “special children”: autists, with Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, with a shortage of attention and hyperactivity. It is noted that animals are able to have a calming effect on hyperactive and excitable children. The sweet four legged easily captures and holds the attention of the child for a long time, even if he has difficulties with concentration.

European rehabilitation experience shows: children with autism easily find a common language with a fluffy affectionate dog, and they are happy to join it. Communication with a dog can help a child with speech impairments speak, and various manipulations with the animal develop fine motor skills.

In Germany, canister sessions offer several serious clinics. In Norway, specialized centers are prepared, and private nurseries are provided for preparation for free. In Poland, the specialty “Kanisterapeut” was included in the state register of professions 6 years ago. In Finland, specially prepared dogs help children cope with speech therapy problems.

Another direction of Canistherapy is associated with the ability of dogs to feel the slightest changes in the human body associated with certain disorders. For example, the ability of dogs to detect in the early stages of intestinal cancer and urinary tract, to feel the approach of an epileptic attack. In the UK, there is a whole research institute that examines the ability of dogs in identifying cancer and other dangerous conditions in humans. In particular, the institute prepare four-legged assistants for patients with diabetes: dogs feel when the level of glucose in the blood becomes dangerous.

In USA, Kanistarapy has not yet enjoyed the support of the state and is developing mainly by the forces of enthusiasts and volunteers. In 2011, a community of support and development of Canistherapy was created, which has been in the Union of Rehabilitologists of the USA since 2014.

Communication with a four-legged psychotherapist

Communication with a four-legged psychotherapist

Dogs help in the treatment of depression to people who have undergone violence and severe loss. Perhaps this is due to the fact that an affectionate animal knows how to silently and carefully listen to, without teaching and not expressing his opinion. Or just be silent, buried his face in the hand. The dog does not matter what a person looks like or what he says. She is an inexhaustible source of unconditional love, which many people need so.

Working with a pet helps the notorious and uncertain children and adults to raise self-esteem, to gain self-confidence. It is only necessary to ensure that the attachment to the four-legged does not take hypertrophied forms.

There are cases of getting rid of phobias associated with dogs during communication sessions with small, affectionate representatives of the dog tribe.

Communication with dogs on older people living in boarding houses for elderly and houses of disabled people is very positive.

Walking with a dog: a pleasant way to health

Walking the dog: a pleasant path to health

The dog can be an excellent means of preventing cardiovascular diseases. According to statistics, dog owners move much more and more actively than those who do not have pets requiring constant care and regular walks.

At any time of the year, at any weather, the owner goes for a walk with a dog 2-3 times a day, passing (and sometimes running) at the same time several kilometers. During walks, he receives positive emotions from communicating with the same dog owners that it is also good.

Catherine P. The owner of Spaniel: “If not for the dog, I probably would not have got up. I work at home, I move little. Walking alone or with friends is boring. Another thing is the dog. We are going through the park about 10 km daily. This is her main duty – to walk me, and not vice versa. Thanks to these regular walks, I dropped about 20 kg of excess weight, began without stopping and almost without shortness of breath to rise to the 5th floor. Even during the period of brutal exacerbations of arthrosis, I walk with her myself, although I can easily ask friends or relatives about it. Yes, getting out of bed hurts and for a long time, but getting down the stairs is already easier. And I return back – I just limp. And for the aching joints of the hands there is nothing better than stroking the shaggy warm side of my healing dog “

According to the results of the scientific research conducted by different groups, interaction with the dog normalizes the heart rhythm, reduces the level of blood pressure, reduces stress, reduces stress.

Controversial issues of Canistherapy

Controversial issues in canistherapy Source: Maljalen / Shutterstock. com

Despite all the positive that they say and write about Canistherapy, there are many controversial and complex moments. The main one is the lack of a scientific base. No one still knows why communication with the dog has a positive effect. There is no clear understanding of exactly how Canistherapy workspporters of the methodology are forced to build their theories not generally accepted in the scientific world – from a general idea to private, but on the contrary, building the theory over the results of the experiment. A similar approach to evidence-based medicine is unacceptable, and this is not why the Canistherapy does not become a widespread tool for treatment and rehabilitation.

It is impossible not to take into account that the Canistherapy cannot be a universal technique suitable for everyone without exception. An unconditional contraindication is confirmed allergies to dogs and strong fear caused by dogs.

In recent years, studies have been conducted, which allowed us to find out: Canistherapy is useful only to those people who, in principle, are positive about dogs. For the rest, communication with dogs can be useless or even harmful.

The wrong choice of a therapist dog can have a negative effect. For example, an overly active, fussy and noisy dog may not calm down, but irritate and nervous patients with an unstable psyche.

Another factor that restrains the development of Canistherapy is the complexity of the selection and preparation of dogs-eleas. Not every cheerful dog can pass strict selection. It is also necessary to take into account the fact that cansistrapy sessions become significant stress for the animal. Veterinary doctors note: animals actively used for therapy sessions are more likely to get sick, and their lifetime is shortened. Dog owners have to solve a difficult question – whether the health of the pet is worth the health if the Canistherapy is never the only and necessary means of rehabilitation and treatment.

According to TatKate Lyubimova, the head and founder of the Sunny Dog rehabilitation group, very often low efficiency of Canistherapy is due to the fact that amateurs who know little and who do not have a medical or psychological education take up the case. Methods have not been developed, much is done by touch, random. Tatkate often repeats that “good should be done correctly”, and not “cause”, as often happens.

The dog is an old companion and a person’s friend. She really can and wants to help, but only a well-prepared person who has special knowledge can organize treatment with the help of a dog so that the process brings pleasure and benefits to both sides: both a pacure and a dog-a medicine and a healer in one person, or, or,, or,, or,, or,, or,, Rather, the muzzle.

Shelley Grishina, teacher-psychologist, canister, psychotherapist of the Irida Center, Expert Kinologist of the Ministry of Emergencies

Despite the lack of a unified concept of canistherapy, the presence of some contradictions among the supporters of the technique, the positive experience of application cannot be denied. The controversy concerns, in particular, the criteria for selecting dogs for use in canistherapy. Golden Retrievers and Labradors are traditionally considered the most suitable, but our experience shows that representatives of a wide variety of breeds are suitable. German, Bernese and Australian Shepherds, Schnauzers, Ridgebacks and Setters, and even mutts successfully work with us. What is important is not so much the breed as the character traits of the dog, and also the creative approach of the cynologist to preparing the pet.

We work with both our staff dogs and volunteer pets. It is necessary that the owner of the dog has a sincere interest in this activity, a desire to help children or the elderly and love for them.

Unfortunately, canistherapy is practically not supported at the state level, everything rests on the enthusiasm of volunteers. But we do not lose hope, and we are sure that canistherapy has a future in our country.


Samuel Carter author About Author