Celebrity canine trainer The Dogfather has spoken of the vital part a pooch can play in care homes – by helping to enhance residents’ length and quality of life.
The popular behaviourist from Channel 5’s Dog’s Behaving (very) Badly revealed how animals such as cats and dogs can have a huge impact on the health and happiness of elderly residents.
And Graeme Hall – AKA The Dogfather – claims such a positive impact could even be linked to a longer lifespan for residents and pets.
Speaking on behalf of family-run care provider, Hallmark Care Homes, which welcome residents with a dog, Graeme said: “Studies show that being with a dog, particularly a dog you are bonded with, reduces resting heart rate – an indicator we’re less stressed, and that will definitely increase your life.
“Not just your length of life, your quality of life as well; there is a hormone called oxytocin, which functions to protect the heart.
“Being with a dog increases oxytocin production so it’s true to say dogs are literally good for your heart and keep you healthy.”
According to the renowned dog trainer, it’s not just your heart that benefits, but also your brain, which a four-legged-friend can assist in keeping stimulated.
Owners need to get up in the morning to tend to their pet, give them something to eat and take them for a walk, providing easy ways to keep active.
And dogs can also read their keeper’s body language, making it a win-win when it comes to a brain workout for both.
The ultimate optimists
It also emerged there’s no right or wrong when it comes to the best breed of dog for those over 75, with the key things to consider being energy levels and temperament over looks.
Graeme, who was visiting a Hallmark care home in Hutton, Essex, said, “If you come to a care home, it’s a bit like starting a new school.
“But if you’ve got a dog people flock to you, it’s easy to make friends - before you know it you’ve got a social group around you.
“If you’re a dog living in a care home, you’re literally never alone – there’s loads of people around and everyone’s happy to see you, so it’s happy days.
“Most dogs are the ultimate optimists, they’ll get loads of treats, loads of fuss and calm people.
“Just remember treats are only one kind of reward for a dog – most are happy to receive love and attention, and that doesn’t put any weight on them – there’s no calories in a hug.”
A spokesperson from Hallmark Care Homes, Louise Baxter added: “It’s been amazing to have an expert like Graeme visit us and hear of how exactly dogs can enable residents to live an active and fulfilled life.
“Fluffy friends are welcome at our homes because they make people happy.
“We feel every attempt should be made to ensure beloved pets shouldn’t be left behind when you move into a care home.”