How Therapy Dogs Benefit Childrens Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Development

The article highlights the benefits of using dogs as therapy animals for children, emphasizing how therapy dogs can reduce stress levels, contribute to emotional well-being, and facilitate social and personal development, making them valuable companions for children, especially those with disabilities.

How Therapy Dogs Benefit Childrens Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Development

Therapeutic Role of Dogs in Children’s Development

Understanding Therapy Dogs

Therapy dogs are specially trained to offer comfort and affection to individuals in need, typically in settings such as hospitals, schools, or nursing homes. Unlike service dogs, therapy dogs are not trained to perform specific tasks for a person with a disability. These dogs possess unique qualities such as empathy, patience, and attentiveness, making them suitable for therapeutic purposes.

Benefits of Therapy Dogs for Children with Disabilities

The use of therapy dogs can have numerous benefits for children with disabilities. For instance, therapy dogs can help in controlling the release of cortisol in the body, thereby reducing stress levels. This can contribute to the emotional well-being of children with disabilities. Additionally, therapy dogs can facilitate social and personal development for these children, providing them with physical, emotional, and mental benefits. For children with learning disabilities, therapy dogs can offer comfort, soothing, and calming effects, thus aiding in their overall well-being.

How Therapy Dogs Benefit Childrens Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Development

Emotional Support Offered by Therapy Dogs

Therapy dogs play a significant role in strengthening the bond between parents and children, offering unique emotional support. They have been found to benefit autistic children by promoting emotional growth and providing relief from stress. Moreover, therapy dogs assist children in developing emotional regulation and social skills, encouraging calmness and interaction. Their presence offers a myriad of additional benefits for children, fostering a sense of calmness and positive engagement.

Role of Therapy Dogs in Counseling for Children

Therapy dogs contribute to the therapeutic alliance between counselors and children in several important ways. Animals can support the therapeutic alliance between a counselor and a child in at least four important ways: initiating interaction, providing supplemental social support, intervening following a crisis situation, and functioning as co-therapists with mental health professionals. There is a growing trend in the field of animal-assisted counseling, with increased focus on mental health issues presented by students and the preparation of suitable animals as partners for therapy. Animal-assisted counseling also provides opportunities for children to internalize humane education and serves as an effective complementary therapy for young children.

How Therapy Dogs Benefit Childrens Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Development


Therapy dogs play a crucial role in enhancing the emotional, social, and cognitive development of children, especially those with disabilities. Their unique qualities and therapeutic benefits make them valuable companions for children in various settings. Encouraging the utilization of therapy dogs to support children’s well-being is essential for their holistic development.