Comfort dogs offer entertainment or a welcome distraction from a traumatic event such as tornadoes, hurricanes, depression, domestic violence, school shootings, for example.
It’s hard to be sad or lonely when petting a dog. These dogs do more than just crisis work.
The AKC website sites that interacting with animals boosts levels of oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin in the brain and can improve our immune system. Children especially react well to dogs and calms them down.
The term comfort dog is typically used to describe a type of dog known as a “crisis response” dog. These dogs are trained to handle stressful and crowded situations.
You may not have a dog ready to be used in a crisis, but may be ready after the initial aftermath of a disaster to provide comfort during revere and rebuilding lives. This would be classified as a therapy dog, not a comfort dog.
fema.org sites that comfort dogs and their handlers are unique; both completed specific training so they can be a source of relief in rapidly changing environments and situations. Their certification is designed to make sure they understand disaster response and they are then tested to ensure they can handle the high demands of a crisis environment.
- This certification is called HOPE Animal-Assisted Crisis Response
- The temperament of the dog is the most important factor to pass this training.
- All breeds can be comfort dogs.
- All sizes of dogs are needed.
These dogs and handlers go all over the country providing their services in all types of crisis situations.