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Program of (re)habilitation with a therapy dog

The Rehabilitation Centre Silver has a variety of programs, and one of them is a Program of (re)habilitation with a therapy dog. Most often users of this program are children with developmental difficulties and their parents /caregivers who for some reason are not able to have a dog at home or during their waiting period as a preparation for having a therapy dog at home.

The users are mainly children with different developmental difficulties, so the Program of (re) habilitation is based on the Team initial assessment and on the cooperation with parents and also with other experts and siginficant people involved in the user’s life. Then, the starting point is the analysis and creating  an Individual plan for each user with defining goals to be achieved by including a therapy dog in the (re) habilitation process.

Through the goal-oriented involvement of a therapy dog in the (re)habilitation process, plus taking into account the difficulties, as well as the strengths and capabilities of each user, there can be positive affect on different aspects of development:

  • sensory-motor
  • cognitive
  • communication
  • psycho-social and emotional development

During the(re) habilitation session a therapy dog can have the role of a user’s assistant (helper) in performing some activity/task and a role as a motivator in the exercises, activities and game. It is known that a dog with his presence can have a very good (often relaxing) effect on the mood, reduce anxiety and provide emotional support. Friendship that user gradually develops with a therapy dog strengthens the self-confidence and the sense of security so that the obstacles and challenges that seemed big become more easily manageable through ”a play with a friend”.

The Program of (re)habilitation with a therapy dog also includes adaption to the presence of a dog, reducing fear from a dog, and developing a sense of caring for other living being

Specifics of inclusion of the therapy dog in the (re)habilitation process are defined according to each user and their individual needs and abilities, but also taking into account ”the type” of  disability (autism spectrum, ADD/ADHD, motor difficulties like CP, intellectual challenges, deafness, blindness …). Special care is taken that the Program of (re)habilitation with a therapy dog  is ”functional” for the user, meaning – regardless of the fact whether a user does or does not have a dog at home, in everyday life a child can use some part of experienced/learned in the Program. This is why continuos cooperation with parents is particularly important.

Also within the Rehabilitation Centre Silver’s framework of cooperation with other institutions the Program is implemented in therapeutic work with the users of their services.