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Sunday, November 02, 2014

Dogs Detect Stress And Anxiety

Cali, a service dog, with student. Photo courtesy of The Calais School

We've heard about the wonders that service dogs perform—everything from cancer and diabetes detection to emotional support, trained dogs excel at helping humans cope—and even save lives. But we didn't realize that dogs could also detect stress, via smelling the hormone cortisol, released when humans are anxious or feel particularly stressed or threatened.

Enter Cali, a young Rhodesian ridgeback who helps special needs children at The Calais School in New Jersey when the going gets tough. Just seeing her produces a remarkable turnaround in some students. Each day she gives each youngster a good sniff when they enter the school building and quietly and unobtrusively alerts her handler if she detects higher than normal levels of cortisol. Cali also participates in reading and other activities where the students might become stressed. Apparently Cali is pretty easygoing herself, and her calm demeanor can sometimes provide enough help to calm a child.

Let us know if you've heard of service dogs specifically trained to detect cortisol, or work with any yourself. We'd love to hear from you!


Kinley Westie said...

I's not trained, but I do help my momma's sister when she are stressed. It are a full-time job.

Unknown said...

That is way cool. Have a marvellous Monday.
Best wishes Molly

Duke said...

It's amazing what pups can be trained to do! So cool!

Love ya lots♥
Mitch and Molly

Sagira said...

That is so sweet. It is amazing what dogs can do. I know they were training dogs how to detect bed bugs at our training club awhile back.

KB said...

That is so sweet. I have said to my trainer, again and again, that my dog seems to know when I'm stressed out, even when I think that I'm hiding it. Unfortunately, in our case, it's rough on my dog because she's fearful to start with. When she senses that I am feeling stress, she is more fearful.

Fascinating post!

Unknown said...

I like the fact that she alerts her handler discreetly. So cool, the type of work that she does.

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