Training program

Purina Partnership Launches Touch Therapy Dog Training Program

Press Release: Purina

Purina recently launched an employee-led touch therapy dog ​​program in response to the growing demand for therapy dogs by organizations serving youth and families. The 16-week Touch Therapy Certification program through St. Louis-based nonprofit Duo Dogs will initially include eight Purina Associates and their pets, training together to become Certified Duo Touch Therapy teams. .

Purina’s inaugural employee touch therapy training program is in partnership with Duo Dogs, a St. Louis-based nonprofit that trains and connects facility and assistance dogs with individuals and communities. Duo certifies that each dog and handler is a touch therapy team that visits youth organizations, schools, hospitals, treatment centers, day programs, nursing homes and many other locations as needed. providing comfort, affection, and love while providing several positive mental and physical benefits. including lower blood pressure, reduced stress and anxiety, and reduced feelings of depression. Upon completion of the training course later this year, graduates will be eligible to volunteer at Duo Facility partner sites in the greater St. Louis metro area.

The launch of the program comes at a time when mental health awareness is on the rise and increased demand for animal-assisted therapy leaves organizations like Duo Dogs in need of more volunteer touch therapy teams. Seven out of 10 young people say they have mental health problems, according to a recent study by the National 4-H Council. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 50% of Americans will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their lives, and that one in five Americans will experience a mental illness during a lifetime. given year.

“The timing of this new initiative – to certify and make more touch therapy teams available in our region – is invaluable given the growing demand for mental health support that many organizations are facing. A Touch Team, dog and handler, is creating new ways to provide care for people, and especially the youth in our community,” said Dawn Van Houten, CEO of Duo Dogs. “Thanks to these passionate Purina employees and their pets pets, our pioneering program can provide more certified touch teams so that more people can feel the power of pets. We are very grateful for Purina’s continued support and for joining us to help meet the ongoing needs in the mental and physical health of our region.

As part of the Duo Dog Touch Therapy training program, each registered dog is examined for temperament, general health, acceptance of people and desire to participate in the program. After passing a temperament evaluation, the Purina employee and his dog go through an extensive training course focusing on obedience and behavior, situational awareness, patient and team safety, and dog etiquette. the establishment. Once the handler and dog have completed training and a final evaluation, the team will be certified as a touch therapy team and will be available to visit a wide range of organizations and facilities as needed.

“At Purina, we believe pets and people are better together, and this program will unleash the healing power of pets and make a positive difference in our community,” said Steve Degnan, Director of Human Resources. at Purina. “Our employees understand better than anyone the impact interactions with pets can have, and we are so grateful to this group of associates and their pets for stepping up and helping a valued partner like Duo Dogs to provide healing interactions with pets to those who need it most.”

The new Employee-Pet Touch Therapy Program is the latest step Purina is taking to help unleash the power of pets to those in need. Purina supports St. Louis Children’s Hospital and helped establish the Purina Family Pet Center, a facility that allows pets to visit pediatric patients inside the hospital. Purina also helped launch Paws for Hope, which provides patients at St. Louis Children’s Hospital with access to volunteer animal therapy teams. Additional Purina employee touch therapy teams will be certified on an ongoing basis. The company hopes to expand the program to other communities where Purina operates in the near future.

Purina also sponsors a litter of puppies that will be bred by Purina associates and trained by Duo Dogs to become certified service and installation dogs.

A growing body of research demonstrates the benefits of animal-assisted therapy (AAT) in supporting the mental well-being of people dealing with a variety of physical and mental health issues. Purina actively studies the power of the human-pet bond through research conducted by its team of pet behavior scientists and provides funding to support research in this area globally.

Purina’s recent research on human-animal bonds includes a study on the positive impact of owning a dog during the pandemic, and a study with Mayo Clinic on the positive impact of therapy dogs on fibromyalgia patients. Purina has also recently funded and promoted to research by the University of Missouri showing the benefits of pets for parents and their autistic children as well as a study led by researchers at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, Ontario, Canada to illustrate the value of therapy dogs in providing emotional support to hard-to-reach patients with serious mental illness.