Why Dogs Are A Great Form Of Sensory Regulation
My first experience of having a dog has completely changed my life. Friends referred to me as 'non animal Kate' and I had never understood what I was missing out on until now. All animals, but especially dogs add a forced sense of relaxation and rejuvenation to life, thus a regulatory opportunity.
Losing time with dogs is a great form of sensory processing and regulation. Life is so busy, especially in the lead up to Christmas. To have to take that time to stop and play with my pup Ol is a treasured time in my day. No matter what I have done throughout the day I can switch my mind off and completely relax in the moment.
As adults we tend to know how to regulate as we structure our lives around likes and dislikes. We may not be aware that sensory processing comes into this but we are all sensory beings. For kids, they have to learn how they can thrive in our dynamic and sensory stimulating world. Quite often they are expressing what they need to seek or what they dislike and avoid but it isn't always appropriate or the best choice.
Dogs and kids can therefore be an amazing form of sensory regulation. Dogs teach patience and pacing. Kids and adults must learn not only to look after their dog but to show their love and build trust by spending time hugging, playing and grooming. Working on these tasks provides an opportunity to chill out and regulate.
Dogs provide proprioceptive feedback. Think about times that your dog comes and leans it's body on you, it actually acts as an impromptu weighted pillow. This can be extremely helpful for kids that benefit from frequent input and especially deep pressure.
Dogs need exercise, what a fantastic reason to get extra movement breaks. Whether it is rolling on the floor with the dog, chasing it around the park or even playing ball we can create extra movement breaks into our daily routine.
For more information on sensory regulation and how to create a sensory diet feel free to call or email.
Director Connecting OT