Man’s best friend. They’re furry, fluffy, strong, loyal, and offer humans, unconditional love. But did you know that dog ownership comes with other benefits as well? Our beloved canine companions have, like many other pets, the ability to lower blood pressure and also to restore the brain’s neurochemical pathways to their factory authorized original settings. This includes undoing the damage that years of drug or alcohol addiction caused. Drugs and alcohol act on the brain by either enhancing or interfering with the activity of neurotransmitters and receptors inside the synapses of the brain. Interacting with dogs causes the brain to increase its amount of dopamine output, which is the same effect produced by many drugs, albeit through dangerous methods and in unhealthy amounts. Research has shown that over a period of time, these type of healthy dopamine stimulant “replacements” have a positive effect on the reduction of dependence on a substance. Healthy, positive interactions with dogs can also increase the brain’s production of oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins. While these facts certainly apply to any dog with which the addict feels a connection, some breeds are notably better at the role of “therapy dog” than others.
Labs are good-natured, social, hardworking and loveable. This sturdy, large breed of dog is solid, strong, and has an excellent work ethic. They are also one of the easier breeds to train. Their intelligence and loyal nature also makes Labradors great detector dogs, and search and rescue dogs as well.
One of America’s most popular dog breeds, these beautiful animals are intelligent, friendly, and devoted. They were originally bred as “gun dogs” to retrieve waterfowl and other small game that their humans were hunting. They are very serious workers and also enjoy competitive events as much as they enjoy family time. Their patient temperament and dedicated nature make them an excellent choice for both therapy and seeing-eye dogs.
If utilizing the therapeutic benefits of nature and hiking is part of the recovery plan, look no further for your therapy dog than the Border Collie. These dogs are among the hardest working of all dog breeds. These super energetic dogs are incredibly smart and trainable. They also make fantastic search and rescue dogs. If you have the time and energy to devote to keeping this dog exercised and occupied you will have a lifelong companion.
The German Shepherd breed is unmatched in devotion and courage. They are somewhat larger than most other therapy dog breeds. It is also exceptionally agile and muscular. This breed is amazingly versatile and used to excel at anything they have been trained to do from therapy dog to police dog to bomb detection. A German Shepherd named Buddy was actually the very first seeing eye dog in America!
Originally bred to guard horses and coaches, this well-recognized breed of black and white spotted dog still retains some of its protective instinct. This dignified breed is commonly associated with firefighters. They possess a somewhat reserved nature which can make them seem a bit standoffish until they get to know you. This charming breed loves to be by his or her human’s side. Anyone looking for a well-trained therapy dog that can also serve as a protector has definitely found their breed in the Dalmatian.
One of the conditions necessary for substance abuse to thrive is people allowing themselves to miss out on pleasurable experiences because of fear or disinterest. They prefer to continuously turn to the one coping mechanism that they know they can rely on despite its unhealthy and potentially life-threatening side effects. Introducing therapy dogs into a person’s rehabilitation can help change thought and behavior patterns. Please contact our team at Asana Recovery and find out what other types of therapy will work for you. From our detox programs to our residential treatment programs we are committed to working with you in overcoming your addiction and making you whole again.