Comet the Labradoodle becomes Australia’s first dental therapy dog
Comet, a 3-year-old labradoodle, has become Australia’s first dental therapy dog.
Dr Dan Ford, a paediatric dentist based in Brisbane, has started bringing Comet into his practice to help young patients who suffer from anxiety and nervousness.
Dr Ford said that taking Comet into work isn’t just an excuse to have his beloved companion with him all the time, and he has already noticed an incredible difference in children’s behaviour and mindset when the lovable pup is around.
Many of the children Dr Ford treats need special care, and they are prone to anxiety and can get upset easily. Having Comet around helps to make them feel at ease, and it also gives them something to focus on aside from the imminent procedure. Comet is very affectionate and loving, but he also has a gift for reading situations, and he knows when to approach children and when they need a little extra reassurance. If he detects that children are anxious about having treatment, he often jumps up onto the chair so that the children can stroke him, and this helps them to relax. Having Comet around also makes the experience of going to the dentist a lot more enjoyable for children, so they look forward to the next trip, rather than being scared.
Comet is no ordinary dog, and he has undertaken intense training alongside Dr Ford to enable him to work with children in a dental clinic setting. Dr Ford trained Comet when he was a puppy, and he has also been trained by an experienced therapy dog trainer.
Therapy dogs are commonplace in practices in the US, but Dr Ford believes that Comet is the first dental therapy dog to work in Australia. So far, the feedback from parents and children has been really positive, and Dr Ford and Comet are looking forward to meeting more patients in the years to come.