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Pet therapy is a rather new practice based on the notion that pets, like people, must receive emotional nurturing and social cultivation in order to live happy, healthy lives. While pet therapists often focus on pets' behavioral problems, they also help educate and train pet owners. This process can be very trying for owners and furry friends alike. It is important for you to select a pet therapist carefully to ensure a positive experience for both you and your pet.

Pet therapists do not need a license to practice in the United States, but those who are not licensed generally have recommendations from veterinarians. This should be comforting, as a licensed or recommended therapist is an indication that the individual is knowledgeable, reputable and educated in psychology and/or animal behavior.

The ideal pet therapist should have an obvious love for animals. He or she should be patient, relaxed and energetic. Your pet will cooperate best with a person with whom he is comfortable and affectionate. A good pet therapist will devote an equal, if not more, amount of energy to educating you as they do assessing your pet's needs.

Pets as Therapists

The use of canines to help mankind is known throughout the world. They have been used for guarding flocks, tracking, hunting, search and rescue, leading the blind, and in assisting the deaf and physically challenged.

The bond between dog and man dates back to early history, but it wasn’t until recently that a correlation was acknowledged between this bond and the emotional health of humans. Studies have shown that a person holding or petting an animal will cause a lowering of blood pressure, the release of strain and tension, and can draw out a person from loneliness and depression.

Part of a dog's appeal is that it isn't judgmental, only wants affection, and could care less about your age, looks, personality or physical limitations. Unconditional love is a beautiful thing! That is why dogs, in particular, are being used in mental health and nursing home settings and some eldercare facilities encourage pet ownership.

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