Therapy dogs can be a blessing to all those in need. If you’re wondering if your dog is eligible for therapy work, there’s no doubt that the two of you can serve you as a team.
Doing therapy work requires more than a warm smile and a well-behaved dog. Your puppy may seem fully qualified, but therapy dogs must be able to cope with stressful and unpredictable situations for extended periods of time. Later in life, your dog may also be the perfect therapy dog.
The best way to describe the mannerisms of a qualified therapy dog is balance. Not too hot and not too cold. Therapy dogs must be able to handle a wide variety of emotions and behaviors, from small children who want to be hugged as hard as possible to older adults who need gentle comfort. Therapy dogs have to deal with the highs of happy faces, and the lows of people who may suddenly react in negative ways.
What is a therapy dog?
Let’s start with what a therapy dog is, and its day-to-day work. Therapy dogs go to nursing homes, schools and hospitals to do what they do best: put a smile on their face.
Therapy dogs are versatile. The best people are playful and loving people who follow the orders of their handlers and don’t mind strangers putting their hands and bodies on them.
It’s also important to note that therapy dogs are not service dogs. A service dog is trained to help in a specific way, and their job is to care for their human companions. A therapy dog works with his trainer to spread joy, relieve stress and bring comfort to those in need.
What dog can be a therapy dog?
Any mix or breed of dog can be a therapy dog.no matter what your puppy should Becoming a therapy dog depends on the kinds of questions you have to answer for yourself and your dog.
Dog therapy isn’t a one-way street where you walk into a therapy session, your dog does everything. Therapy with a dog is a collaborative effort that requires your time, patience, and passion for the job.
The first check box in evaluating the value of treatment is, does your dog have impeccable manners?
If the answer is “sometimes,” then your dog may not be ready for therapy work.
Dogs who are overly excited to meet new friends are not a good candidate for therapy. The last thing you want to do is leave the hospital with an injured patient because your dog knocked them over.
Therapy dogs must remain calm under pressure at all times, from the secondary lock hugs of a group of children to the sharp pinching of the ears of elderly patients. When the accident happens, your dog needs to brush it off like it’s nothing.
Therapy dogs are first and foremost lovers of people. Therapy Dogs See a Person and Think “Another Friend!” The best therapy dogs are never bored with the next person who wants to come to them, whether with love, or hysteria.
Ask yourself the following questions about your dog:
- Does your dog love meeting strangers?
- Is your dog calm when meeting new friends?
- Will your dog obey your commands?
- Can your dog be touched anywhere on the body by new people?
- Does your dog ignore other dogs and focus on therapy?
If the answer to all of these questions is yes, then read on.
Will my dog enjoy therapy?
If your dog is friendly, well-mannered, and well-trained, and you’re reading this, the two of you are likely to make a good therapy team. You know your dog best, though, so make sure your dog’s personality is right for you to enjoy these tours.
The therapy dog is half of the team. No matter how perfect your dog is in therapy, don’t forget that you are an integral part of the equation. Your passion for making therapy visits is critical to handling your dog and providing the best experience for those you visit.
The world is about to be a happier place if it all comes together and you think you and your dog are both perfect for therapy work.
The jobs you can do with your therapy dog are limitless, and you can bring smiles to people of all ages. Therapy work with your dog can be a very rewarding experience for you, the people you visit, and your dog. That’s what you call a win-win, and it doesn’t get any better than that. Becoming a therapy team requires a special dog and a dedicated trainer, but when they come together, the world is a better place.
To begin the training and certification process for becoming a therapy dog and training dog team, here is a list of AKC-approved therapy dog organizations.