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When dogs enter the classroom

The association Biak Bat gave a workshop on dog therapy.


06 | 04 | 2018

Their names are Ivonne and Cake and they are two chocolate Labrador retrievers whose mission statement is attend and help people with disabilities, illnesses or autism spectrum disorders. They belong to the association Biak Bat of Alsasua (Navarra) and last March 23rd they attended a workshop on canotherapy organized by the School of Education and Psychology together with Josune Azpiroza psychologist specialized in early Education and psychopathologies and technician in animal assisted interventions, and Iosu Mendez trainer canine and technician in animal-assisted interventions.

During the workshop Iosu Méndez and Josune Azpiroz explained what canotherapy consists of: a technique used with financial aid of trained dogs that stimulate the participation of patients with physical or mental disabilities and emotional problems to perform a series of sensory and perceptual activities. They also showed what characteristics a dog must have in order to be of attendance, since it does not depend on breeds, but on complying with a series of requirements such as being pleasant with people or "gluttons" to motivate them by giving them food as award.

The students did a group dynamic discussing what a dog brings to attendance and an exercise of giving orders to the Labradors with a dice with the goal to reinforce skills. Then, Iosu and Josune listed the multiple benefits of these animals in patients: they facilitate children's learning, stimulate body expression, improve self-esteem, increase socialization levels, reduce loneliness, reduce aggressiveness, boost the work of the remote report , promote physical activity along with communication and language. In children who have suffered domestic violence, it has also been possible to reduce in some cases up to 27% different disorders such as anxiety.

Much more than just tools for work

Biak Bat is a association that emerged in 2011 as a project for promote animal-assisted intervention programs and dog training from attendance in order to respond to a series of assistance, training and educational needs of the Basque Country and Navarra in subject of people with disabilities and at risk of social exclusion.

They have a professional team with extensive experience in the field of health sciences, disability, social exclusion and animal training. Biak Bat develops and coordinates various programs ranging from childhood with needs in their development, victims of gender violence, intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, etc.. In addition to the human team they have several therapy animals, composed mainly of dogs, although there are two cats and a turtle. "They are our companions at work rather than a tool", says Iosu Méndez proudly.