Deep Pressure Therapy Dogs
Deep pressure therapy is a kind of massage that uses firm pressure and slow strokes to reach deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue.
This form of therapy can be used to relieve pain, reduce stress, and increase relaxation.
Deep pressure therapy has many benefits, let’s look at it together!
Table of Contents
What is deep pressure therapy?
Deep pressure therapy (DPT) is a technique used to help reduce symptoms of fear, stress, anxiety, and other psychiatric issues. It is a non-invasive, simple to apply technique that uses gentle but firm pressure to bring a sense of calm and relaxation to an individual.
Common examples of DPT include hugging and cuddling, holding, squeezing, swaddling, and stroking. Weighted blankets have many benefits, that is why they are also often used for deep pressure therapy.
DPT can be applied by anyone and is especially useful for those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), anxiety disorder, depression, dissociative disorders, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), sensory processing disorder (SPD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Tourette’s syndrome, and Restless Leg Syndrome. It is most often used to help children with ASD feel more relaxed in the moment and overall. Adults with autism usually like weighted blankets because it calms them.
Service dogs can be trained to provide deep pressure therapy, however, it is also possible to teach pet dogs or emotional support animals the technique.
What is deep pressure therapy service dog?
Deep Pressure Therapy Service Dog is a type of Psychiatric Service Dog trained to use a technique called Deep Pressure Therapy (DPT) or Deep Pressure Stimulation (DPS) to help people transition from a stressed state to a more relaxed one. This technique is easy to use and sends signals throughout the body that result in a more relaxed state.
DPT involves applying pressure to the body, typically with the dog’s body weight, warmth, and muzzle. This can be done on cue or when certain behaviors such as trembling, rapid breathing, or other symptoms that may manifest when one is distressed are present.
Although many different kinds of tools and activities can be used to apply deep pressure therapy, owning a service dog capable of performing deep pressure therapy can offer extra peace of mind.
How do dogs do Deep Pressure Therapy?
Dogs can be trained to perform deep pressure therapy (DPT) as a service dog to help their handler. DPT can be applied to the handler’s torso, legs, or head and can involve the dog laying on their handler or resting their head down.
With consistent, positive reinforcement, any dog can learn the skill of deep pressure therapy.
For example, a handler may say “pressure” and the dog should lay down on the handler’s chest. The handler should then praise the dog and give them a treat as a reward.
What is a DPT service dog task?
A DPT service dog task, also known as deep pressure therapy, is a type of task performed by specially trained psychiatric service dogs. The task consists of applying gentle pressure or another type of stimulation to someone who is experiencing the effects of a disability.
Examples of disabilities this special dog can help with include autism, Alzheimer’s, depression, anxiety, PTSD, and attention deficit disorder. The task is protected under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) and can be trained either by the person with the disability or with the help of a friend or local dog trainer. Deep pressure therapy has been known to help improve the quality of life for many people, and is just one of many types of service dogs.
Service and Comfort Dogs
The most important aspect of Deep Pressure Therapy with dogs is the type of dog breed used. Certain breeds, such as Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, Labradors, and Cocker Spaniels are considered better suited for DPT due to their size and temperament. Smaller breeds may not have the necessary weight for effective pressure-based therapy.
Apart from finding the right breed, DPT also requires special training for the dog. Service dogs for anxiety must go through specialized training to be ADA compliant and provide the required level of assistance. They must also have the necessary certifications to go into public spaces.
Therapy dogs are different from service dogs in that they provide comfort and affection to people in a facility setting, while service dogs provide a specific service to people with special needs. Therapy dogs do not require any special training or certifications.
In addition to providing comfort and support, service dogs for anxiety can anticipate and help soothe anxiety attacks, fetch medication for their owners, and provide a sense of calm. These benefits, combined with the special training and certifications make service dogs an invaluable resource for people with anxiety.
Advantages of Emotional Support Animals
The advantages of having an emotional support animal (ESA) are numerous, and include: offering companionship, distracting from symptoms, providing a purpose and focus, motivating and holding accountable, providing comfort through their presence, and legal protections such as an exemption from no-pet housing rules.
ESAs can be any type of animal, and do not require training, so they are cheaper and faster to acquire than service dogs. Furthermore, ESAs are protected by the Fair Housing Act, so you can live with them even in rentals that don’t allow pets, and you can’t be charged a pet fee.
ESAs can even be trained to do deep pressure therapy on cue, and can provide many of the same benefits as service dogs.
What dog breeds are best suited for deep pressure therapy?
When it comes to finding the right dog for deep pressure therapy, it is important to consider both the temperament of the dog and the size. Weighted stuffed animals or toy breeds may not have the necessary weight for deep pressure therapy to be effective, so medium to large breeds are generally recommended.
There are several dog breeds that are well-suited for deep pressure therapy, as they have a calming and affectionate temperament and are naturally inclined to provide comfort to others. Here are some of the best breeds for deep pressure therapy:
Border Collies are an intelligent and energetic breed that can make great therapy dogs, including for deep pressure therapy. These dogs are highly trainable, and their natural herding instincts make them well-suited to tasks that require focus and attention to detail.
Labrador Retriever is known for its friendly and affectionate nature, making them a great choice for deep pressure therapy.
Golden Retrievers – similar to the Labrador Retriever – are known for their friendly and gentle nature and make great therapy dogs.
German Shepherds are highly trainable, and with proper training, they can channel their energy into productive and therapeutic activities, including deep pressure therapy. Their strong instincts and loyalty make them highly protective of those in their care, which can provide a sense of comfort and security to those receiving deep pressure therapy.
Bernese Mountain Dog is known for its calm and gentle disposition, making them a great choice for deep pressure therapy.
Great Danes are known for their gentle and affectionate nature, and their large size makes them great for providing deep pressure stimulation.
Saint Bernards are known for their calm and gentle nature, and their large size makes them great for providing deep pressure stimulation.
Newfoundlands are known for their gentle and affectionate nature, and their large size makes them great for providing deep pressure stimulation.
Irish Wolfhound is known for its calm and gentle nature, making them a great choice for deep pressure therapy.
Bulldogs are known for their friendly and affectionate nature, and their muscular build makes them great for providing deep pressure stimulation.
Australian Shepherds are a highly intelligent and energetic breed that is well-suited to many activities, including deep pressure therapy. These dogs are highly trainable, affectionate, and loyal, making them great companions for those in need of deep pressure therapy.
However, it is important to note that any dog, regardless of size or breed, can be taught the technique of deep pressure therapy. It may be beneficial to consider getting a service dog, as they can be trained to respond to certain behaviors and apply deep pressure therapy on cue.
What are the methods of deep pressure stimulation?
Deep pressure stimulation (DPS) is a type of tactile stimulation used to relax the nervous system. It is typically administered through gentle pressure application to the body in various ways such as hugging and cuddling, holding, squeezing, swaddling, or stroking. Sleeping with weighted blankets are another form of deep pressure stimulation, as they provide a soothing, calming sensation as the weight of the blanket is pressed against the body.
Those with service animals may use them as a tool to apply deep pressure therapy. However, even pet dogs or emotional support animals (ESAs) can be taught the technique by their owners.
What size dog for deep pressure therapy?
When selecting a dog to provide deep pressure therapy, size matters. A toy breed may not have the necessary weight to provide the same level of comfort and relaxation that a larger breed can provide. For most people, a medium or large breed is ideal for deep pressure therapy.
Small breeds can still be taught the technique and can even be trained to ride in a special sling that attaches to the handler’s body. Before choosing a service dog for deep pressure therapy, it’s important to consult with a licensed healthcare provider to determine the best size and type of service dog for your needs.
Deep pressure therapy – dog weight
Deep pressure therapy dogs come in all shapes and sizes; however, the amount of pressure they can apply is typically dictated by their weight. According to an article published by the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP), small to medium-sized dogs should weigh at least 20 pounds, while large dogs should weigh more than 50 pounds. Dogs providing deep pressure therapy should be trained to stay in one spot for at least 5 minutes.
In terms of weight distribution, the IAADP suggests that dogs should distribute their weight evenly when providing deep pressure therapy. To ensure this, the handler should place their hands in the middle of the dog’s back and the dog should lie down so that their entire body rests on the handler’s torso.
Overall, the amount of pressure that a deep pressure therapy dog can apply depends on several factors, such as their size, breed, and the manner in which they apply the pressure.
How to train your service dog deep pressure therapy
The following steps outline how dogs can be trained to do deep pressure therapy:
- Start by teaching the dog the basics of obedience, including commands like ‘sit’, ‘stay’ and ‘come’, as well as any hand signals.
- Once the dog is familiar with basic obedience, it’s time to begin training the dog to do deep pressure therapy. Have the handler lay down on the floor and place the dog on their chest or legs. Praise the dog when they stay in place and give them treats as a reward.
- Teach your service dog to apply pressure in different positions, such as laying on their back or side.
- If your service dog is large enough, teach them to apply pressure while standing by having them lean against you.
- Teach your service dog to apply pressure on command and to remove themselves from you if an emergency arises.
- If the dog is comfortable, gradually increase the amount of time they are asked to stay.
- For larger dogs, have them practice laying on top of the handler for extended periods of time, making sure to keep their muzzle away from the handler’s face.
- For smaller dogs, have them practice laying in the handler’s lap and riding in a sling.
- Once the dog is comfortable with the deep pressure therapy, it’s time to associate the behavior with a cue word or gesture. This can be done by having the handler say the cue word or gesture, followed by the dog performing the deep pressure therapy.
By following these steps, you can successfully train your service dog to provide deep pressure therapy when needed.
Can a small dog do deep pressure therapy
Yes, small dogs can do deep pressure therapy. Small breeds can be trained to ride in slings that attach to their handlers’ bodies, allowing deep pressure therapy to be applied while the handler is upright or walking around.
Alternatively, small dogs can be taught to lay their head down on the handler’s body, resting it on the lap or wherever the handler asks them to.
Deep pressure therapy is a useful technique that is easy to do with proper training, almost any dog could be taught this skill.
What else can psychiatric service dogs do?
Psychiatric service dogs can do much more than provide deep pressure therapy. They can be trained to use body blocking techniques to create extra personal space for their handlers, and to provide a sense of security and privacy in vulnerable situations.
They can also be used for grounding, to help bring their handler back to the present, and to interrupt self-harming behaviors. Psychiatric service dogs can also be trained to remind their owners when it is time to take their medicine and can even fetch the medication for them.
Finally, service dogs can guide their owners to a safe and quiet place when they’re experiencing distress such as a panic attack.
Doing the Butterfly hug is also a great way to manage panic attacks.