Therapy Dog

If you are interested in training your dog to be a Therapy Dog, we recommend the following:

Register Here!

There are many organizations for therapy dogs. We recommend looking at them and see which you prefer. Some of the organizations are – Love on a Leash & Alliance of Therapy Dogs. Check out the websites, as each group has it’s own requirements.

 

Boo therapy visitTherapy dogs visit many places, including assisted-living facilities, hospitals, libraries, and schools, in order to bring joy to people who are unable to have a dog with them. If your dog is friendly, likes people and other dogs, likes new things, knows basic obedience, and is of sound temperament, your dog may be a good candidate as a therapy dog. Your dog must be up-to-date on vaccinations, groomed, and clean during visits. Therapy dogs are not service dogs, they do not accompany you to stores.

 

Your dog must be friendly towards people to be a therapy dog. If your dog is not people-friendly, your dog will not enjoy being a therapy dog, and you can find something else fun to do with your dog. Does your dog seek out people? Does your dog enjoy getting pet by different people? Is your dog comfortable when people pet and stroke his/her body? The answer to these questions must be yes. Zoe, our Border Collie, loves people and loves attention. She seeks out people who may want to pet her, rolls on her back, and sighs in pleasure. Zoe comes along when we do public events. She is the perfect dog to greet the world. On the other hand, Jedi, our German Shepherd, enjoys attention from her family, but ignores other people and does not care to interact with them. She would not like doing therapy dog visits, and is happy to be at home. You need to ask yourself, what makes your dog happy and who would your dog like to visit?

 

ThDog Pic1Your dog must be friendly towards other dogs, or at least tolerant of other dogs, to be a therapy dog. Chances are you will come across another dog during your visit, it could be another therapy dog, a resident dog, a service dog, or someone walking their own dog. The best thing your dog can do is ignore the other dog. This is not playtime, but therapy dog time, so pulling you over to visit the other dog and say hello is inappropriate behavior. Arrow, our Belgian Malinois, is great at ignoring other dogs. We use him during training when we need a distraction dog for the dog we are working. He acts like the other dog is not there. If your dog is too friendly towards other dogs, or not friendly enough, contact us and we can help.

 

Your dog must like new things in order to be a therapy dog. Every visit is going to be different than the one before. There will be new people, new smells, new sounds, and new sights, all the time. Your dog must accept each of these new experiences in stride. If your dog is uncomfortable – hey, we all have bad days, now and again – remove your dog from the situation. Expose your dog to as many of the sights, sounds, and smells as you can when they are a puppy, which will help your dog feel more comfortable with those experiences once grown. Your dog may ride in an elevator, go up and down a staircase, go up and down an enclosed staircase, pass water fountains and water falls, see wheelchairs, walkers, strollers, crutches, IV stands, babies, children, adults, retired adults, men, and women. Your dog will see people of different sizes, different races, and different backgrounds, and must be comfortable with all of them.
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Your dog must know basic obedience in order to be a therapy dog. Your dog must walk nicely on leash, without pulling or straining. Your dog must not jump up on people. Some dogs may be taught to put their paws up on a patient’s bed, or on the chair beside the patient, on command. Your dog should sit or down on command, or do both. Your dog should know come when called, this may not be used every visit, but there may come a time when you call your dog to come and your dog needs to come to you. Your dog should also know stay, which can be used while you are talking to a patient. Your dog must know leave it, as there will come a time when your dog is tempted by food, or medicine that dropped on the floor, and your dog must leave it alone. We highly recommend that your therapy dog know some tricks as well. Tricks are a great way to break the ice during therapy visits.

 

Your dog must be of sound temperament to be a therapy dog. Your dog should not “freak out” and should be calm, happy, friendly, stable, and all-around good. Your dog should not be nervous, shy, afraid, aggressive, and so on. If your dog needs training, contact us, we can help.

 

Your dog must be up-to-date on vaccinations and in good health to be a therapy dog. Your veterinarian will be able to tell you if your dog is healthy and what vaccinations your dog needs.

 

P1030411Your dog must be groomed and clean during therapy dog visits. Your dog may have a long coat, needing a professional groomer, or your dog may have a short coat, needing a quick rub-down. No matter how long your dog’s fur is, it must be clean and not tangled. Your dog’s ears should be clean and nails should be trimmed.

 

If you are interested in training your dog to be a Therapy Dog, we recommend the following:

 

It takes time and training for your dog to be a therapy dog, but the rewards are priceless. The smiles and joy that you bring are beyond measure. Some dogs get to that point faster than others, but a well-trained dog is always a great companion in your life. If your dog is friendly, likes people and other dogs, likes new things, knows basic obedience, and is of sound temperament, your dog may be a good candidate as a therapy dog.

Register Here!