Pets help kids become confident

Vinayak Chaturvedi (in white T-shirt) with students from The Deens Academy during a pet therapy session.

Many parents and schools in the city are opting for pet therapy. 

Vinayak Chaturvedi and Ankur Jain, partners who started TherPUP - a Dog Cafe in Whitefield, has around 11 dogs, which includes Golden Retriever, Labrador, Shih Tzu, Jack Russell Terrier, Indie and Cocker Spaniel.  

Vinayak says that their ‘Supercharge’ programme, where people get to interact with the dogs, a great way to reduce blood pressure, improve cardiovascular health and releases endorphins in the process. 

“Nowadays, schools are increasingly showing interest in pet therapy. We have had sessions with The Deens Academy, DPS and Chrysalis High,” he says.

Here’s how it works — the dogs enter the classroom, children interact and play with the dogs. “We have been conducting at least three sessions per month. Some schools plan field trips with a pet therapy session,” he adds.

Sessions include children as young as six-year-olds, Vinayak adds.

“Our one to two-hour-long sessions helps them get over their fears of dogs. There are also children who come to our cafe.” 

There is a deeper focus on child development, learning disorders and even mental wellness now, says Christopher Vicky Franklin, owner of Fetch Canine Training School.

“This includes withdrawn or shy children, those who have issues at home, etc. Pet therapy is now being used to address many of these issues. Animals have clean energy and they do 
not have selfish motives. These sessions teach children how to go forward in life, materialistic things are not as important and that pain inflicted on one can be let go off,” he says.

Along with child psychologists and counsellors, pet therapy is becoming a part of the curriculum now, adds Christopher, a trainer of pet therapy dogs and handlers.

“A child tends to develops confidence with these sessions. There is an increased interest in pet therapy by 70 per cent in the past 3 years,” he adds.

Pet therapy is not just about dogs. Cats can be equally therapeutic for many. Rehana Mohammed Shakir, a pet therapy facilitator, has 17 Persian cats. She works on a referral basis. 

Rehana explains, “I filter the requests. There are times when a parent doesn’t have time to help take care of a pet. Since children can be difficult about things and keep hankering, helping them understand the requisites of keeping a pet is important. A hands-on environment comes into the picture, where the parent and the child come for a session. It is like a boot camp.”

A lot of times, children love hanging out with pets than going to a park, she points out.

“It’s a big stressbuster. The kind of non-verbal communication that happens between an animal and child cannot be explained in words.”

“There was a child who was withdrawn from everyone. When he came with his sibling for the session, some of the cats chose to play with him. These special moments helped boost his confidence,” she adds.    

Missing home? Cool cats can help

“Bengaluru is a mix of people and many people who work here are from across the country. When one is homesick, they also come in for a session. Young professionals come in by themselves or with their children to hang out with some cool cats.”

Rehana Mohammed Shakir, 
Pet therapy facilitator   

‘Dogs should pass the temperament test’  

“Every animal goes through stress and identifying the days they can’t handle sessions is important. Dogs used in therapy sessions should pass a temperament test. There are no breeds which are specific to therapy, even a Rottweiler can be a 
therapy dog.”

Christopher Vicky Franklin, owner of Fetch Canine Training School.

‘Furry friends can teach many lessons’

“The best part about interacting with four-legged beings is that they teach young adults and children many lessons. Dogs, cats and any other pet for that matter, do not have selfish motives. It encourages children to be more kind and open to each other. Pets do have their own mood flings too so dealing with them accordingly is much needed. Exposing children to them at a young age helps to imbibe respect for all living beings.”

Dr Suhasini Mythri K, child psychiatrist

Looking for pet therapy sessions?

If you’re a dog lover, call TherPUP - a Dog Cafe: 9643031814.

For some stress-free time with feline buddies, email queries to: rayshakir@gmail.com

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Pets help kids become confident

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