How can my dog become a therapy dog?
Apr 12, 2023
A therapy dog is a trained and certified canine that provides comfort, emotional support, and assistance to people in need. These dogs are often taken to hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and other places where people may benefit from interacting with a friendly and well-behaved animal.
Qualities of a therapy dog:
- Good temperament
- Socialization skills
- Comfortable around people and other animals, able to remain calm and gentle in a variety of situations, and healthy with up-to-date vaccinations and preventative healthcare.
To get started, the first step is to find a reputable therapy dog organization. These organizations can help guide you through the process of selecting a suitable dog and training them for therapy work. They may also provide certification and support for ongoing training and evaluations.
The training process for a therapy dog typically involves basic obedience training, socialization, and exposure to a variety of environments and situations. Once a dog is deemed ready, they may undergo specialized therapy dog training to learn specific behaviors and skills needed for therapy work.
Step-by-step guide to get started:
- Research reputable therapy dog organizations and choose one that fits your goals and location.
- Ensure your dog meets the organization's criteria for becoming a therapy dog, including age, temperament, and health requirements.
- Train your dog in basic obedience and socialization skills.
- Begin exposing your dog to a variety of environments and situations to build confidence and adaptability.
- Participate in specialized therapy dog training to learn specific behaviors and skills needed for therapy work.
- Complete the certification process with your chosen organization, which typically includes a series of evaluations and tests to ensure your dog is ready for therapy work.
- Begin volunteering with your dog at approved therapy locations, following the organization's guidelines and regulations for each visit.
- Maintain ongoing training and evaluations to ensure your dog continues to meet the organization's standards for therapy work.
Note: the specific steps may vary depending on the therapy dog organization you choose to work with.
It's important to remember that not all dogs are suited for therapy work, and that the process of training and certification can take time and effort. However, for those dogs that possess the right temperament and qualities, becoming a therapy dog can be a rewarding experience for both the dog and their handler, as they bring comfort and joy to those in need.