DPT Dog: Have you ever wondered why you wake up so calm and relaxed when sleeping with a heavy blanket? You’re not alone, many people sleep better and wake up less stressed when using weighted blankets.
This is known as deep pressure therapy (DPT). It’s a calming technique in which applying pressure on the human body promotes relaxation and calmness. Nowadays, people use their dogs’ mass to apply that pressure. The dogs trained to do this technique are known as DPT dogs.
In this article, we’ll discuss deep-pressure therapy and how to teach your dog to do it.
What Is a DPT Dog/Deep Pressure Therapy?
Deep pressure therapy is an alternative or complementary therapy that involves the application of gentle, firm pressure to the body. There are various ways to apply pressure, including hugging, squeezing, swaddling, and holding.
You might be asking what’s the point of deep pressure therapy. To answer this, we need to take a closer look at our nervous system.
The nervous system is the body’s control center; it regulates all our body functions by receiving signals from different body parts and sending back signals to tell our body how to respond to various stimuli.
Our autonomic nervous system consists of two main parts: the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous system.
The parasympathetic nervous system controls the body’s involuntary movements, such as the heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure, and bowel movement. Stimulating the parasympathetic system shifts your body to a state of calmness and relaxation.
On the other hand, the sympathetic nervous system controls the body when it’s in danger, or what’s known as the fight-or-flight response.
It’s believed that deep pressure therapy increases parasympathetic activity and decreases sympathetic activity. As a result, it helps reduces stress and anxiety levels shifting our body to a state of relaxation.
What Does Psd Stand for Dogs?
PSD stands for psychiatric service dogs. These dogs are trained to aid people with mental illnesses or disabilities in performing their daily tasks.
They’re treated as service dogs, meaning they can accompany their handler in areas where pets aren’t allowed. They can be in any shape, size, or breed as long as they’re trained properly.
What Is a DPT Dog?
A DPT dog is a psychiatric service dog trained to perform deep pressure therapy for people with mental illnesses to calm them down when stressed.
DPT dogs use their body mass to apply pressure on the human body to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system. Accordingly, the body shifts from that fight and flight response to a calm state with lower blood pressure and heart rate.
What Is a Tactile Stimulation Service Dog?
Tactile stimulation service dogs are trained to provide tactile stimuli to their owners by licking, nudging, and playing with toys. These dogs also help their handler with finding lost items.
Large-sized dogs often perform tactile stimulation by rubbing their chin on different parts of their handler’s body.
How Do You Teach Deep-Pressure Therapy?
DPT dogs must be well-trained to provide therapeutic pressure to their handler when needed. Still, they don’t require a professional to train them. Many dog owners train their dogs on their own, it might take time and effort, but it’s worth it.
You can teach your dog to apply deep pressure in various ways. For example, some teach their dog to sit and apply pressure on their lap.
Others prefer teaching their dog to lie on their chest. Before you choose the best technique for you, let’s start with some fundamentals you need to teach your dog.
1. Teach Your Dog to Be Comfortable on Uneven Surfaces
This is extremely important if you want your dog to provide pressure by sitting on your chest. Many dogs might feel uncomfortable stepping on uneven surfaces like cushions, steps, or your chest.
The main point here is to teach your dog to follow the normal obedience orders like sit, down, or stay on uneven surfaces (cushions or steps).
2. Make Sure Your Dog Has a Solid Down-Stay
Your dog needs to have a solid durational down-stay. Teaching your dog to follow down or stay commands is pretty easy. However, it’s challenging to get him to stay for a long time.
3. Teach Your Dog to Go to a Place
This is a handy technique to teach your dog to DPT. Why? Because it works on the dog’s body position, which is essential in DPT. For example, you can teach your dog to lie on his mat.
Once your dog gets used to his mat, you can transfer it anywhere else and order him to lie on it. Ultimately, you can put the mat on your body and get your dog lying on it in a suitable position.
4. Teach Your Dog to Chin Rest
Chin rest is when your dog rests his chin in your hand. You can teach him to do so by putting one hand under his chin, letting his chin rest, then rewarding him with the other hand until he masters this order.
In DPT, you can use the chin rest order to let your dog rest his chin on your arm or knee, which is beneficial in applying pressure.
How Do I Teach My Dog to DPT?
The teaching process might differ depending on the dog’s breed, size, and the amount of pressure you want. However, we’ll provide you with the techniques your dog needs to master after learning the basic orders.
1. Teach Your Dog to Sit On Your Lap/Chest
You can train your dog to sit and apply pressure on your lap using his upper body or lie on your chest. Depending on your dog’s size you want to choose one method to focus on first.
For large dogs, it’s better to start teaching them how to apply pressure on your lap. For smaller dogs, it’s better to train them to use their whole body to apply deep pressure on your chest.
- Start this training by sitting on the ground or couch.
- Get your dog’s mat and put it on your body.
- Order your dog to get on the mat and lie on it using the ‘down’ order.
- You can choose a word like ‘lap’ to motivate your furry friend to start this task.
- Use food and treats as a motivation to adjust your dog’s position.
- Once your dog is in the correct position, reward him with treats.
- Use the chin rest command and let your dog use his chin to apply pressure on your arm or chest, then reward him again.
- Finally, use a release word like ‘free’ or ‘go’ to release your dog from his position.
The most critical part of this training is to get your dog lying in a proper position every time. To do this, avoid using the couch every training session. Instead, repeat the same training steps on different surfaces like a bed or the floor.
Also, start rewarding him only when he’s in the correct position. That way, he gets used to sitting in that position regularly.
2. Increasing the Duration of the Training Session
Once your dog learns how to lie down properly on your body, it’s time to keep him sitting for longer periods without giving him treats.
Start by spacing out the rewards you give him and continue with the same rules. You can also give him more treats if he responds faster to your orders or when he lies correctly.
3. Performing the Task Without the Mat
If you’re using a word command such as ‘go to place’ to get your dog sitting on the mat, you need to replace it with a new command so that your dog learns to perform DPT without the mat.
To do this, use a new word such as ‘DPT’ or ‘Hug.’ Then, use the same old word, when your dog responds, reward him, and so on.
Now it’s time to get rid of the mat; you can do this by folding it in half. After that, give your dog the same orders and see how he positions himself. If he lies in the correct position multiple times, you can finally get rid of the mat.
The last thing you want to do is to teach your pup to perform the task without getting distracted. To do this, change your location every training session; for example, use your car seat.
Start adding distractions like shaking your legs; as long as your dog isn’t distracted, reward him with treats.
4. Choosing the Right Dog Breed
You can’t train any dog type to help in DPT. Similar to service dogs, not all dog types make good service dogs. For instance, small-sized dogs can’t provide enough pressure. Also, short-tempered dogs might be harder to train.
Conversely, dog breeds like Golden Retriever, Labrador Retrievers, Collie, and Bernese mountain make great DPT dogs.
What Does DPT Help With?
DPT reduces stress hormones such as cortisol, which decreases anxiety and depression.
To Sum Up
Deep pressure therapy (DPT) dogs are another option for those seeking physical and emotional relief. Studies demonstrated that the presence of a calm friendly dog on your lap/chest can decrease stress hormone levels, and increase the feelings of safety and relaxation.
This can be helpful for people who have difficulty sleeping because of stress or anxiety. Additionally, DPT helps with many mental illnesses, such as autism, ADHD, and depression.