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A dog as a coach?


The first dog-related post on the website today as I wanted to give an update on the next biggest step for Dukko Performance Coaching! We're now only a few weeks away from moving back to our home in Bristol after a year in London and we are more than ready to make a dog part of our lives as well as key business partner!

There are a number of reasons I am very keen to include a 'Pets as Therapy' (PAT) registered dog as part of my life coaching sessions. The benefits to clients that a dog will bring are evidenced in a number of scientific studies and these will contribute to me being able to provide a uniquely valuable, approachable and positive coaching practice.

Contact with animals lowers stress levels and reduces anxiety:

This is widely accepted knowledge although I have added links to a number of the studies that evidence it below. A lot of my coaching will be with university students and I'm fully aware that levels of stress and anxiety are on the rise in the sector. I want to do everything I possibly can to enable students to feel more calm and confident about their decisions and choices. Letting a happy and calming dog help me achieve this is a no-brainer. I'm also fully aware that talking about things like the future, goals, experiences, reality, confidence, plans, health and relationships can be a bit nerve-racking and I want to make sure that my clients feel as relaxed as possible. Having a dog present will really help calm and de-stress those who may feel overwhelmed by life's challenges.

Pets help establish rapport and put people at ease:

As documented in a 2012 study of animal-assisted interventions with homeless young people, it was noted that the presence of animals has been implicated in a myriad of health, social, behavioural and emotional benefits with key areas of efficacy including engagement and rapport. I'm confident that including a PAT dog in sessions with clients will help build the familiarity and trust that is so crucial for a great coaching relationship and productive sessions.

Bonding with animals helps build self-esteem and confidence:

A 1999 study by Dr Eunice Johannson demonstrated that animal-human bonding brings significant advantages. 'The advantages of bonding and its evidence are seen in development and enhancement of self-esteem and related aspects of the individual's psychology'. It is my personal mission to help all my clients feel more confident and self-assured through the coaching I provide and if I can enhance this with a happy-go-lucky dog in the room, then that's something I definitely want to do!

As well as registering to rehome a withdrawn guide dog (one that's failed the tests!) my husband and I have now signed up to a number of animal shelters local to Bristol so that when we see the perfect dog for our lives and for the business we are on the books and ready to go! We've decided to rescue a young adult dog instead of a puppy because there are so many loving dogs that need to be given a second chance. In the next few weeks we should have a new update on the dog we've chosen and when it'll be moving in!

References:

Exploring the use of Animal Assisted Interventions with homeless young people

Therapy Dogs help stressed university students

Benefits of Pet Therapy

The feasibility of brief dog assisted therapy on students

Johannson, E. E (1999) Human-animal bonding: An Investigation of attributes. (Doctoral Dissertation) University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta.

National Health Service for Scotland, NHS (2012) Animals as Therapy in mental health


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