“Look after our dogs and we’ll reap the rewards both socially and economically” says Dogs for Good Chief executive, Peter Gorbing.

Speaking at the ‘Understanding the Value of Our Pets’ policy roundtable discussion in London yesterday, Peter Gorbing suggested that we have not reached the peak of understanding of how dogs can make a difference to our lives.  Dogs for Good has contributed to a new report that finds companion animals are making a significant impact to the health of the nation and may reduce the use of the UK health service to the value of £2.45 billion/year.

Dogs for Good recognises that for people with additional needs, the benefits of working with a therapy dog, assistance dog or contact with a pet dog brings far greater benefits than just practical support.  Peter Gorbing explains: “We regularly see that when people have contact with a dog it improves their mood, helps them feel more healthy, increases confidence and helps to build relationships. It would be great to see more understanding and appreciation into the economic benefits of dogs to people with additional needs and the benefits that dogs can play in society.”

Part of Dogs for Good’s work is to give training and advice to help families with a child with autism get support from their pet dog. Through a series of three one day workshops the charity uses a combination of practical demonstrations, discussions, hands on learning and course hand outs.

When Liz Bull attended her first Family Dog workshop she said she was moved to tears when she realised how they could build a relationship with their dog to benefit their eldest son Jacob, who has autism.

“We were finding family life increasingly difficult and Jacob’s needs came above everything else.  Bedtimes were a nightmare and every evening I could feel myself getting stressed before we’d even gone upstairs as I anticipated the daily meltdowns that Jacob had. After the Family Dog workshops we started working on ways our dog Sam could help. Sam became part of the bath time and bed routine; Jacob learnt to clean Sam’s teeth and was then able to clean his own teeth.  The pair relaxed together in Jacob’s bedroom with Sam getting lots of fuss and attention and you could see the tension just drain away from Jacob. Now our bedtimes are so much easier and I’m so much less stressed too.  It also means I can now give equal attention to both Jacob and his two sisters as well.  Sam has had a positive impact on every aspect of family life, we are more positive and we have a better quality of life because of him.”