For centuries, humans have enlisted the help of animals to improve their emotional state. This can be as simple as enjoying the company of an animal. In addition, some species may offer direct physical support during certain types of rehabilitation. There is even a type of therapy that uses rabbits as therapy animals.
There are many species that take part in animal-assisted therapy. Some examples are dogs, cats, chickens, turtles, pigs, fish and horses. Each of them offers different types of support thanks to their temperament, abilities and ways of acting.
Dogs, for example, are very friendly and docile animals. As a result, they are good at facilitating interactions. Another example is horses that can help with physical rehabilitation and recovery of muscle tone.
Although humans have probably used animals in therapy for many years, the first documented therapy animals date to 1792 in York Retreat, England. This facility used various pets, such as rabbits, to improve the mood of patients with mental illness.
At present, it is easy to see that dogs work well as therapy animals. But there are also many other options and each one can offer different types of support. We encourage you to continue reading this article to discover more about how to use rabbits as therapy animals.
Why use rabbit as a therapy animal?
Animal-assisted therapy is a complementary rehabilitation method for many human conditions, both physical and psychological. As we already mentioned, dogs are the most common therapy animal. But humans can also use rabbits as an alternative species.
There are several characteristics and qualities that make a rabbit a good therapy animal, in particular:
- The rabbit’s small size
- Its intelligence and kindness towards people
- The playfulness
- It’s easy to hang out with a rabbit
- Clear non-verbal communication to convey what it likes and dislikes
In addition, it is clear that children and rabbits can develop very strong bonds. Rabbits are actually a popular pet among children. In fact, children’s literature is full of rabbits, and it is normal for children between the ages of 7 and 10 to be drawn to these adorable animals. Therapy with rabbits can give very positive emotions in children. In addition, rabbits can help improve a child’s imagination.
Benefits of rabbit as a therapy animal
Like other types of animal therapy, therapy with rabbits provides many benefits for children’s health. For example, it promotes communication and expression, encourages acceptance of physical contact and also provides moments of peace.
Promotes communication and expression
Playing with a rabbit is a positive, relaxing and fun experience. As a result, it gives children mental stimulation. This makes children anxious to share the experience with people they trust, such as their families or caregivers.
Encourages acceptance of physical contact
Some children who use a rabbit as a therapy animal have very little physical contact with other people due to various reasons. Rabbits are very cuddly creatures that can encourage children to develop the ability to use physical contact and communication.
Provides moments of relaxation
As with all therapy animals, petting a rabbit can be soothing. It can play a big role when it comes to reducing stress, which has significant benefits for the body and therefore helps it to heal.
Care for rabbits
When working with therapy animals, one must not forget that these are living animals with complex feelings and needs, and that these animals also deserve respect. Therefore, there is always an assistant present during therapy sessions. The assistant follows a strict protocol drawn up by psychologists and veterinarians. In this way , the welfare of the animals and their physical and mental integrity are ensured.
Through research and information from hospitals, nursing homes and other institutions, we know how good help animals can be. However, this is still a research area under development. We must continue to learn from animals as they learn from us.