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Dogs in Therapy

Queenstown Speech Language Therapy is delighted to have the use of the beautiful Benson to assist with therapy if a client wishes.  We also have Flare and our fluffy puppy, Zoom, in training to be able to join in.  When working with Benson, Flare or Zoom, the client interacts with the dog, speaking or reading with them.

The use of dogs in Speech Language Therapy is relatively new but research has already shown that they can have a positive effect.

Some areas where this is seen are:

  • With clients of all ages to stimulate both verbal and non-verbal communication
  • With young children working to increase the length and complexity of their speech
  • With adults with aphasia following stroke or other brain injury
  • Any situation where the client lacks confidence in their communication ability


A bit about our canine-assistance team:

Benson is a 5 year old dog who’s not quite sure who his parents are.  He was adopted by his owner, Merran, who accompanies him to sessions.  As well as being accredited for use in therapy, Benson has also gained a number of trick titles.  He won a national competition with his ability to play cards.


Flare is owned by Queenstown Speech Language Therapy.  He is a failed farm dog who was rescued at about one year of age from a sad situation. He has since bloomed in confidence.  Despite being a bundle of energy, he has shown he knows when to settle and loves the chance to interact quietly with people who can’t manage the full bounce experience.

Zoom was born in February 2020.  He is a purebred Border Collie and belongs to my daughter.  Like Flare, he is happy at full-speed, but we were recently able to trial him in a situation where he needed to control this.  He had a very successful visit with a patient who had recently had major surgery, and lay quietly with her for 45 minutes.  A huge achievement for a young pup.  We are hopeful he will continue to build on this great start, and eventually be able to take his place in the team.

Benson is the tan dog.  Flare is the larger black and white.  Zoom is the fluff ball in the middle (photo credit with thanks to Merran Kavanagh).

Picture of dogs used for speech therapy in Queenstown, NZ

© Merran Kavanagh

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