Is It Ethical to Train Dogs For Therapy?

Therapy dogs can be a big help to a lot of people, particularly children that are undergoing a great deal of stress due to the illnesses that they are suffering from. However, a lot of people are starting to question the ethicality of this practice. After all, dogs that are trained to provide therapeutic benefits to people are living creatures themselves. Dogs are widely known to be some of the most sensitive creatures in the world, and they have a reputation for being empathetic and very open about their own feelings as well. Hence, it is natural that people would start wondering about whether or not they are being impacted by the job that they have been tasked to perform.

This is why so much research has been conducted into how dogs feel while they are providing therapy to people. The first thing to note in this situation is that these dogs have been thoroughly trained to perform well in these situations. They know just what to do, and they are trained in such a way that comforting a stranger comes naturally to them. This training involves getting them used to new people, to the point where it would take barely time at all for them to get comfortable around a new person. This is one of the biggest reasons why these dogs tend to be so effective in these situations.

Another common argument against therapy dogs is that we are putting them under stress by forcing them to perform emotional labor. This does sound like a valid argument; after all, these dogs are getting attached to a human that may very well die, and dogs tend to take the death of someone they care about very seriously indeed. However, it is important to note in this case that dogs are not that complex. While it is certainly true that their emotions are a lot more complex than other animals and they are one of the few animals out there that would actually be able to love someone in a manner that humans would be able to relate to, they are not complex enough to actually understand what is happening to them. Apart from this, their training helps them navigate the path between people that they are helping, so much so that there is no reason to worry about them getting too attached to a human.

The research that proved that dogs don’t really go through a lot of stress while they are providing therapy involved using cameras and the like to confirm their behavior, analyzing videos of their body language and facial expressions. Hence, it has been proven pretty conclusively that using a therapy dog is not just helpful, it is perfectly ethical as well. Dogs are domestic animals and they are treated fairly and lovingly in this capacity, which means that there are a lot of benefits to using them to help other people go through a tough time in their lives.

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