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How Dogs Can Benefit People with Parkinsons

Jan 19, 2024
 

How Dogs Can Benefit People with Parkinsons

 

As an experienced dog behaviourist, I've spent many years observing and understanding the bond between humans and dogs.

 

It's a bond that is more than just companionship, especially for individuals with ailments like Parkinsons syndrome.

 

While I am not a medical professional, this short video reel from Mark Hogben inspired me to look into whether there were any documented benefits (some hyperlinks below) of having a dog while living with the condition. Definitely worth following Mark on his Instagram account, I’ll admit, I’m in awe of him as a person.

 

My experience in dog behaviour over the years has given me a great understanding of how dogs can play a transformative role in the lives of those with various conditions, from mental health to ASD, to Epilepsy and Dementia to name just a few.

 

Living with Parkinsons presents unique challenges for us, but having a dog in our life can offer a number of benefits.

 

One of the most obvious benefits is the encouragement of physical activity. Walking a dog is an easy, effective way to keep mobile and help maintain or improve your walking gait. For someone with Parkinsons, these regular walks are not just about exercise but also a step towards managing symptoms and keeping up our physical health. Daily walks with our dogs give us a sense of purpose and helps focus in keeping up an active element in our day.

 

Dogs also offer immeasurable emotional support, something most of have encountered when we’re upset, or have a ’down day’. The comfort of a dog can help enormously when we feel isolated or depressed, feeling that can come with Parkinsons.

 

Specially trained service dogs can help with various daily tasks which enhances the independence of people with Parkinsons. They can be trained to help with balance and perform household tasks.  These dogs aren’t just companions but partners with their owners as they support our everyday life.

 

Studies suggest that dog owners tend to be healthier and visit the doctor less often due to the increased physical activity and psychological benefits we feel from caring and having the responsibility of a dog.

 

The social aspect of having a dog is also major benefit, providing opportunities for social engagement and a busier social life helping to keep the mind focussed.

 

Dogs can play a pivotal role in the lives of people with Parkinsons. As a dog behaviourist, I've seen first hand how they can bring joy, support, and a renewed sense of purpose.

 

Making the decision to bring a dog into your life is significant and should be made with careful care and consideration, but the potential benefits for someone with Parkinsons can be truly remarkable.