Dog Therapy: How Our Four-Pawed Friends Can Help Teens

The dog has been thought of as humankind’s best friend for thousands of years. Nearly 44 percent of households in the US have at least one dog as a pet–but have you ever thought about why? Well, it could be because canines have a way of offering us a sort of therapy–dog therapy.

Studies show that interacting with dogs and having them as pets has the power to impact our overall mental health positively. Even further, it’s been shown to benefit anxiety and depression, making them absolutely perfect to have across our campus at Elevations.

The benefits of dog therapy

Honestly, there are loads of benefits dog therapy has to offer, it’s pretty difficult to narrow it down to fit into one blog post. It shouldn’t be too hard to believe that our four-pawed furry pals have so much to offer, though.

Lower stress levels

dog therapyWe often overlook the stressors adolescents are faced with because they don’t seem stressful for us adults. For them, though, those stressors are very real and can cause some real damage. One study by the American Psychological Association discovered that about 1 in 3 children experienced stress-related physical symptoms (headaches, stomach aches, issues sleeping, etc.) in the past month.

Something that has been shown to help this stress decrease is dog therapy. That’s right–simply owning a dog and interacting with it can lower a child’s stress levels.

Even in stressful situations, if there’s a dog around, a child’s cortisol levels (the stress hormone) are lower than if there isn’t one. This may be because the dog acts as a type of social support–but the evidence is there, dog therapy works.

Improves social skills

Research has also shown that dogs have the ability to improve our social skills and connections. They make a person feel more connected to their peers and family, chasing away feelings of loneliness, which can be a huge factor in depression and other mental illnesses.

Dogs also have a way of bringing you together with others–when they’re around and when they’re not. They’re not afraid to drag you up to someone and sniff their leg, which is a great icebreaker for conversing with new people. It’s also something you can use to bond with others by talking about your pets–I know that I probably talk about my dog at least once a day, it’s an easy, light conversation go-to that can help those with social anxiety.

Elevations uses dogs to benefit teens

On our campus at Elevations, we have many dogs. It’s more casual than therapy dogs, but these dogs are kind, friendly, and offer comfort to many of our students on-campus. Something about having a dog walking around campus or lounging in the corner of a room can just brighten your day and improve your mood.

Elevations is here for your family

Elevations RTC is a residential treatment center for struggling teens, ages 13 to 18. Our students often grapple with anxiety, defiance, trauma, depression, ADHD, and other emotional or behavioral issues.

At Elevations, we use a combination of a focused therapeutic lens, real-world environment, secure setting, and caring staff to foster growth and success in our students. Finding the right program can be difficult for a family, which is why Elevations is here to help guide you through it.

For more information about  Elevations RTC, please call .

Elevations Quick Facts

Leading RTC Accreditations


Ages 13 – 18

Comprehensive Medical / Psych

Community-based Approach

Fun, Experiential

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