Young athletes enjoy the therapy dogs that were brought in as a stress release at the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer. (Contributed photo).

Athletes at 2019 Canada Winter Games take advantage of pet therapy to get their chill back

Therapy dogs are available at athletes’ village

Young athletes at the 2019 Canada Winter Games have a lot riding on each competition.

It could be a podium performance, or their medal dreams could be dashed.

With significant stress in the air, therapy dogs are being brought in to help the competitors get their chill back.

On a daily basis, pet therapy options are being made available to whoever needs it at the athletes’ village, courtesy of St. John Ambulance and the 2019 Canada Winter Games Host Society

Animal assisted therapy — or pet therapy — uses the relaxing presence of animals as a form of treatment. The goal is to improve a patient’s social, emotional and cognitive functioning.

The Canada Winter Games Host Society has arranged to have therapy animals available to assist the athletes and help them focus on their competitions, says a spokesperson for the group.

Being around animals is known to help reduce human anxiety and stress hormones — and even to lower blood pressure and heart rate. As well, it makes people feel less isolated and alone.

Whether it’s the therapeutic qualities, or just their cuteness, the dogs are proving popular with young athletes.

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