How To Train A Therapy Dog? (Correct answer)

Tips For How To Train A Therapy Dog

  1. Socialize your puppy or dog to new people, places, objects, and surfaces.
  2. Obtain the AKC Canine Good Citizen title for your dog.
  3. Consider moving up to the AKC Advanced Canine Good Citizen (AKC Community Canine) title to practice CGC test items in a real-world scenario.


How can my dog become a therapy dog?

To earn the AKC Therapy Dog™ title, you and your dog must have completed at least 50 therapy visits. These visits must be documented with time, date, location, and a signature of a staff person at the facility (e.g., school, hospital, etc.).

What is the best age to start training a therapy dog?

“The average age of a therapy dog is 4-6 years old. Many people want to push their young dogs to become therapy dogs before they are ready. Most dogs under 2 years old are simply not mature enough to be a visiting therapy dog,” Frindt advises. “Don’t be in a rush!

How long does it take to train therapy dogs?

Between the public access manners and the specialized skills required for a particular disability, based on the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners (IAADP) guidelines, training a service dog requires a minimum of 120 hours of training for at least 6 months (depending on the dog and the required skills)

What commands does a therapy dog need to know?

What Commands Do You Teach A Service Dog?

  • NAME – to get your puppy’s attention.
  • WATCH ME – your puppy makes eye contact.
  • SIT – your puppy sits on her rump.
  • DOWN – your puppy put’s her entire body lying down on the floor.
  • STAND – to stand on all 4 legs.
  • COME – to advance to your side and SIT in a heel position.

What is the best therapy dog for anxiety?

These popular and large emotional support dog breeds will excel at comforting you in times of stress.

  • Standard Poodles.
  • Labrador Retrievers.
  • Golden Retrievers.
  • Great Pyrenees.
  • Yorkshire Terriers.

Can therapy dogs go anywhere?

The ADA mandates that service dogs have full public access rights, which means they are allowed to go places where are animals are forbidden. They can be brought into restaurants, stores, libraries, and other public spaces.

Can therapy dogs fly on planes?

Those that were considered “comfort” or “emotional support” animals — dogs, ducks, rabbits or others — will no longer be allowed on planes without a cost or without being in a carrier. Some may be brought on under existing pet policies.

What traits are looked at in a therapy dog candidate?

A good therapy dog is a mixture of several important factors, but it mainly boils down to personality and training when it comes to these empathetic canines. The most important qualities of a therapy dog are a calm demeanor, patience, confidence and a love of human contact. There’s much more to it than that, though.

Can therapy dogs help with depression?

A psychiatric service dog can be trained to perform a wide range of tasks to help someone with depression. These include tasks related to assisting during a crisis, helping you cope with emotional overload, and providing treatment-related assistance.

Do you get paid to have a therapy dog?

While ZipRecruiter is seeing annual salaries as high as $103,500 and as low as $15,500, the majority of Therapy Dog salaries currently range between $25,000 (25th percentile) to $56,500 (75th percentile) with top earners (90th percentile) making $88,500 annually across the United States.

How long does it take to train a emotional support dog?

Most working dogs require 1 – 2 years to be fully trained as a service dog with public access skills. You can train your emotional support pup in basic commands in just a few weeks.

Can I train my own emotional support dog?

Legally, ESA dogs do not require any specific training, but they do need to be well-behaved so that they do not cause a nuisance to neighbors or the public in general. This is especially important if a person will be asking for special dispensation to take their ESA onto a flight or to live in a no-pet area.

What side should a service dog walk on?

When walking with a guide or service dog team, you should not walk on the dog’s left side, as it may become distracted or confused. Ask the handler where you should walk. Depending on the situation, they may ask you to walk ahead of them on their right side, or behind them by their right shoulder.

How To Train a Therapy Dog: Learning If Your Dog Is Fit For Therapy Work

Humans are becoming increasingly aware of the health advantages that dogs may provide in today’s world. As a result, there has been an increase in public interest in therapy dogs. Humans at institutions such as hospitals, nursing homes, and schools benefit from therapy dogs’ ability to provide respite to people who are experiencing anxiety, console those who are mourning, or show affection to those who are lonely. If you have a nice, well-behaved dog who enjoys being around people, you and other dog owners in a similar circumstance may be wondering how therapy dogs are taught to help humans.

What Is a Therapy Dog?

The warmth and compassion that a therapy dog provides to persons in an institutional environment, or to specific individuals who require visiting to deal with a medical or emotional condition, are invaluable. Therapy dogs are not service dogs, which are canines that provide a specialized service for a person with a disability and who, as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act, are allowed unrestricted access to the general public (ADA). They are also known as emotional support animals, which require a prescription from a mental health or health-care practitioner but do not require any additional training or credentials in order to perform their duties effectively.

Why Train a Therapy Dog?

Therapy dogs provide several physical advantages to the people who receive their services. They may assist in lowering blood pressure and heart rate, reducing patient anxiety, and increasing endorphin and oxytocin levels in the body. However, this is not a one-way street. Therapy dogs, according to research, reap financial benefits from their labor as well. When compared to normal household pets, therapy dogs have greater levels of endorphins and oxytocina. “Therapy dogs are taken to hospitals, elderly homes, libraries, schools, and disaster sites.” A therapy dog trainer, evaluator, and handler, Linda Keehn, CPDT-KA, and owner of Positive Canine Training and Services in New York City, states that “almost any place where a clientele already exists and it would be beneficial for the dogs to be there” is acceptable.

Therapy dogs must be certified by and registered with a respectable national organization in order to be used as therapy dogs.

Can Any Dog Be a Therapy Dog?

Although your canines may provide you with unconditional affection, this does not always imply that they are a suitable choice for therapy work on your behalf. To put it another way, just because you are an empathic person does not always mean that you would make an excellent half of a therapy dog pair. So, what constitutes a good therapy dog, and how can puppies and their handlers become a therapy dog team, are some of the questions we have. Therapy dogs must be at least one year old and have reached maturity, with many groups not accepting puppies under one year old.

  • These characteristics, according to Keehn, who both trains and tests dogs for CGC certification as well as therapy certification, are particularly crucial when a therapy dog is required to be in public.
  • Aside from that, age and breed aren’t particularly important considerations.
  • Keehn will only examine teams for whom she has not taken a role in the training process in order to prevent conflicts of interest.
  • “Most dogs are fond of their employment,” explains Keehn.

However, the majority of dogs enjoy some form of employment, and this is an excellent opportunity for them to do so. It is, nevertheless, unfair to assign a dog to a duty that it does not like to perform.”

Would Your Dog Make a Good Therapy Dog?

At first, Keehn recommends keeping a tight eye on your dog and remaining detached from it in order to establish its genuine disposition. Most importantly, she advises, you should consider whether your dog enjoys love from individuals other than you. “Does the dog actually appreciate connecting with new individuals in a variety of situations?” Keehn wonders. “Does it actively seek out people’s attention while maintaining a calm demeanor? It may be the most adorable puppy in your living room, but it is not the most adorable dog everywhere else.

They are very well-trained in fundamental obedience, and they are readily acclimated to new sounds, environments, scents, and equipment.

Would You Make a Good Therapy Dog Handler?

Training a therapy dog can open the door to a variety of new experiences for both the dog and the owner. The world of the dog is opened up to you, and as a pair, you are contributing to the betterment of your community. Keehn suggests becoming a member of a national or local therapeutic organization that organizes social activities. As a result, both you and your dog will make new friends. She also highlights that working with a therapy dog is beneficial to both the person and the dog involved.

  1. As Keehn explains, “getting out of oneself and giving back to the community may have a positive impact on your own mental and physical health.” It’s possible that you’ll be the only non-medical person visiting a veterans’ group or hospital when you bring your dog.
  2. As the therapy dog handler, you must be prepared to connect with the client.
  3. Mentoring with another handler who is experienced in training a therapy dog is another excellent piece of advice for handlers.
  4. To begin, Keehn suggests that you go over the printed materials or websites that most therapy dog groups provide in advance of your appointment.
  5. If your dog enjoys being around youngsters, consider taking him to a school or a library.
  6. If this is the case, you could consider making home visits to the elderly instead.

How Are Therapy Dogs Trained?

You have the option of training a therapy dog on your own or with the help of others. When looking for a formal organization to aid you on your road, Keehn, who works as one-half of a therapy team and helps owners train their dogs, recommends that you search for one that has well-educated trainers on their websites. For those who can’t afford private instruction, Keehn advises studying the CGC test for the ten fundamental commands and then going to YouTube to watch videos for advice. Another wonderful alternative is to enroll in a group Canine Good Citizen class, which can then be followed up with more focused and specialized training sessions.

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“Every interaction you have with your dog is an opportunity for your dog to learn something,” says Keehn.

Maintain your requirements at a level that your dog is capable of meeting.

Make your conversation obvious by using nonverbal and vocal signals to convey your message. You are not required to interact with the dog. This enables them to learn to follow their fundamental inclinations to sit and lie down by doing what feels comfortable.”

Tips For How To Train A Therapy Dog

Learning to train a therapy dog is not an easy undertaking, and it frequently involves a significant amount of effort on the part of both the dog and the handler. Indeed, due to their temperament, some of the most well-trained dogs on the planet will never be acceptable therapy dogs for their owners. Other dogs who are challenging to teach may blossom when given the proper training method, and they may go on to make terrific therapy dogs. The material provided above gives a comprehensive look at how to train a therapy dog, but if you want to start from the beginning, the following is an excellent place to start:

  1. Therapy dog training is not an easy process and frequently involves a significant amount of effort on the part both the dog and his handler. It is true that owing to their disposition, even the most well-trained canines in the world will not become appropriate therapy dogs. Other dogs who are challenging to teach may blossom when given the proper training method, and they may go on to make terrific therapy animals. Even though the material in the preceding section gives a thorough examination of how to train a therapy dog, a good place to start is as follows:

Preparing To Become A Therapy Dog With Puppy Dog Training

Puppy Dog Training is a great way to get your dog ready to be a therapy dog. Since we are one of the leading therapy dog training organizations in the United States, we are frequently asked for advice on how to train pups to be therapy dogs. There are a number of things you can do to assist prepare your dog to provide comfort to individuals who are suffering. In this post, we will go over some of the most crucial actions to take in order to prepare your puppy to become a therapy dog.

Begin Socialization and Develop a Trusting Relationship with Your Puppy as Soon as Possible

The ability to socialize as well as the element of trust are, without a doubt, the most vital attributes that a therapy dog should possess. It is critical to introduce your puppy to new people as frequently as possible, while keeping the interactions pleasant and non-threatening for both parties. Attractive meetings with unexpected individuals, well-behaved youngsters, and adults in uniforms, headgear, and spectacles should be the center of your attention. Be prepared to expect the unexpected when your puppy is introduced to new people and environments.

  1. The puppy should not be overloaded with socializing events, so take a break while you and your dog are still having a nice time together.
  2. Identifying activities that you and the dog like doing together is another effective method of establishing trust with the puppy early on.
  3. Consider taking measures to alleviate the situation or decrease the length of any encounters that cause the puppy to become nervous.
  4. This trust is the foundation of the collaboration that is required for any successful therapy dog team to be effective.
  5. By include a variety of persons in the socialization process, the puppy is continually pushed out of its comfort zone, allowing the puppy to understand that he may encounter something new regardless of who he is with.

Begin Therapy Dog Training to Your Puppy as Soon as Possible

Basic obedience training can assist your puppy in preparing to work as a therapy dog in the future. Training your dog to be obedient may be done at home or with the assistance of a professional trainer.

The advantages of obedience training include the development of a sympathetic and respectful working relationship between you and your puppy, as well as the provision of a positive and highly accurate form of communication.

Determining Your Puppy’s Ability to be a Therapy Dog

Therapy dogs who have received proper training like spending time with people, not only their owner or family, but also individuals they have never met before. Their close link with their owner translates into a confidence in you to keep them safe, which allows them to be more patient or forgiving of awkward encounters or unexpected diversions as a result of their deep attachment. They take pleasure in bringing comfort to others and actively seek for opportunities to engage. Here are some of the most crucial features of your puppy’s attitude to keep in mind: Attraction to people on a social level.

  • Restraint.
  • How well does it perform in stressful conditions such as veterinary examinations?
  • Will the puppy obey your commands and bring you something?
  • The degree to which a puppy is sensitive to being handled can be used to identify the sort of training the puppy will require.
  • Your puppy is sensitive to loud noises, isn’t he?
  • Does the puppy appear to be looking at you and approaching you?
  • Sensitivity to the sense of sight.
  • This is an excellent sign of the puppy’s level of confidence.
  • This might imply an issue with one’s temperament or vision.
  • The puppy appears to be readily scared when met with a foreign thing.
  • How well-formed and proportionate is the puppy’s physical appearance?

How are Dogs Tested to Become a Therapy Dog with ATD?

The Alliance of Therapy Dogs (ATD) offers a one-of-a-kind testing method that requires you to handle your therapy dog. In order to ensure that you and your dog have a positive relationship with one another and that your dog has the appropriate temperament for therapeutic puppywork, we conduct a series of tests. Once you and your dog have completed the test, you and your dog will be monitored by a Tester/Observer (T/O) throughout the course of three trips to facilities, which will include two visits to a medical facility.

If all goes according to plan, the T/O will pass you and your dog and recommend that you get certified and registered with ATD.

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Certified Therapy Dog – Get Your Therapy Dog Certification

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Therapy Dog Certification

Therapy dogs are available in a variety of sizes and kinds. The temperament of a therapy dog is the most crucial attribute to look for. A therapy dog must be pleasant, patient, confident, kind, and at ease in all settings in order to be licensed. Therapy dogs must be comfortable with human touch and be happy to be caressed, hugged, and handled by new individuals, even if they do it in a clumsy manner, and to take pleasure in such contact. The medical community has demonstrated scientific proof of the advantages of therapy dogs, which only serves to increase the demand for such canines in the future.

How Do I Get My Dog to be a Certified Therapy Dog?

Household dogs that have been trained by the family do not require specialist therapy dog training, therapeutic dog certification, therapy dog registration, or any other type of paperwork. Dogs must be well-behaved and under the supervision of their handlers at all times, regardless of the situation. Some dogs receive official instruction from training schools, while others are well-trained at home by their owners or other family members. The following is the procedure used by the Alliance of Therapy Dogs: Step 1: A certified therapy dog must be a sociable dog in order to qualify.

Therapy dogs must be at least one year old before they may be trained.

Have you and your dog evaluated by a tester or observer in your region.

Step 3: Following the handling phase of the exam, you and your dog will be monitored by a tester/observer during three visits with residents of nursing homes and rehabilitation centers.

Can a Certified Therapy Dog Go Anywhere?

Unlike assistance dogs, licensed therapy dogs are permitted to enter areas where all dogs are permitted as well as places where therapy dogs are permitted expressly, such as hospitals, schools, libraries, and other institutions that have therapy dog programs. Therapy dogs do not have any unique privileges that would allow them to accompany their owners into a commercial facility, according to the law. Because hotels, motels, and campers are businesses, therapy dogs are treated as pets and are required to adhere to company policies.

Visit our new member’s website to discover more about how your dog may become a therapy dog as well as the various ways you can give your assistance to others.

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Certifed therapy dogs, in contrast to assistance dogs, are permitted to enter areas where all dogs are permitted as well as places where therapy dogs are permitted explicitly (such as hospitals, schools, libraries, and other institutions with therapy dog programs). In the United States, therapy dogs do not have any unique privileges that would allow them to accompany their owners inside a commercial enterprise. Because hotels, motels, and campers are commercial establishments, therapy dogs are treated as pets and are subject to the same regulations as other animals.

Click here to find out more about how your dog may train to be a therapy dog, as well as the various ways you can contribute your assistance.

Canine Comfort: How to Train a Therapy Dog

Dogs provide proven, incomparable consolation to those who are going through difficult situations. Dogs have been demonstrated to assist individuals cope with loss and crises by lowering stress levels, alleviating loneliness and anxiety, and even helping them cope with sorrow and crises. Some dogs appear to be particularly adapted to providing comfort to people, whether they are friends or complete strangers. They may become certified therapy dogs with the proper temperament and training, and they can begin visiting communities such as hospitals, libraries, senior living homes, and even disaster regions to provide assistance to those in need of their services.

This guide will teach you all you need to know about training your dog to be a therapy dog if you believe your dog is a good candidate.

What’s the difference between a therapy dog and a service dog?

The roles of therapy dogs are unquestionably vital, requiring sophisticated training and certification, but they are not the same as those of assistance animals. There are some significant distinctions between the two classifications, despite the fact that they both require training to do their tasks. In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, service dogs are “individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.” Service dogs are legally defined (and protected) under the ADA (ADA).

  • Service dogs are also allowed specific authorization under the Americans with Disabilities Act, which allows them to accompany their handlers on aircraft, in restaurants, and in other places that do not permit pets.
  • Therapy dogs are specially trained to provide comfort and enhance the lives of individuals they come into contact with in a variety of settings.
  • Although they are not required to be certified, therapy dogs are encouraged to participate.
  • In addition, there are emotional support animals, which do not require training or certification and are treated as pets rather than working canines in some situations.

This is not to downplay the significance of emotional support animals, which are recommended by mental health specialists to give companionship while also assisting in the relief of discomfort, depression, and anxiety in their owners.

How do you know if your dog is right for therapy dog work?

We all adore our dogs and, more often than not, find comfort in them. However, not all dogs are suited for therapy work, which requires dogs to operate in unpredictable environments surrounded by strangers of all ages and dispositions, unfamiliar sights and sounds, and, in some cases, medical equipment. So, how can you know whether your four-legged companion is the ideal match to visit folks who are in need of canine reassurance? What factors should you consider? First and foremost, there is one factor that does not matter: breed.

“I was wrong.” That, on the other hand, is not the case.

The most important factor is temperament.

The sophisticated obedience abilities necessary for a therapy dog in a professional setting can be taught, but the temperament of the dog cannot be changed under any circumstances.

The therapy dog certification process

Dogs must pass a temperament exam as well as an obedience test in order to be qualified as canine therapy professionals, which are the two foundations of effective canine therapy. The certification procedure varies from organization to organization. Some organizations may conduct an obedience and temperament exam, after which you will be shadowed on a number of visits. Individualized examinations are performed by certain organizations; other organizations, such as Comfort Caring Canines, do group testing.

According to Harantschuk, the certification organization you choose will be heavily influenced by your requirements and interests, so do your homework before making a decision on which organization to choose for certification.

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A minimum of once every three months, certified volunteers are needed to make treatment visits to the facility.

The benefits of therapy dog certification

If you feel your dog possesses the necessary temperament to serve as a therapy dog, the next step is to get him or her trained and certified. Even though some organizations may allow you to bring your dog without a certification, Harantschuk highly advises against doing so for the sake of the safety of you, your dog, and the others who will be dealing with your dog. No matter how much you want to visit a family member in an assisted care home, experts strongly advise against doing so prior to completing the therapy dog certification procedure with your canine companion.

Insurance coverage is very crucial since mistakes and accidents sometimes happen, and liability insurance is a required when visiting institutions where therapy dogs are employed.

The majority of certification organizations will assist handlers in matching them with groups that meet their needs and interests.

How to train your dog to be a therapy dog

Therapy dog training is not legally mandated, according to Whiteley, so when looking for a program, it’s crucial to be cautious of large price tags linked to anything called “therapy dog training” that offers formal certification or anything along those lines. However, Harantschuk highly advises students to enroll in at least a couple classes. Not only do dogs need to have the correct temperament to be certified, but they must also be able to manage being around medical equipment, loud sounds, unpredictable persons, food, and a variety of other scenarios that even the most laid-back canines must be prepared for.

Alicia Harantschuk provided the image.

Start with the basics

Whiteley advises that handlers who are going toward certification should begin with a solid basic obedience course. According to her, “start with puppy kindergarten and go through advanced.” Teaching excellent manners means no leaping, pawing, licking, or dog aggressiveness is allowed. The Canine Excellent Citizentraining program of the American Kennel Club is a good gauge for the obedience standards of a therapy dog (which some organizations in fact require for certification). The CGC teaches ten fundamental skills, including how to sit respectfully for petting, how to sit, how to lie down, how to stay in position, how to come when called, and more.

Therapy dogs should have a good auto-sit (which means they should sit anytime they are not moving), a strong recall (“come”), and they should not jump up to meet and welcome visitors.

The importance of “leave it”

The “leave it” command is a more advanced technique that all dogs should be familiar with, but it is particularly important for therapy dogs. The therapy dog scenario is saved by this technique, as Harantschuk explains: “It is a lifeline for medication carts, individuals who are terrified of dogs and don’t want to be approached, open-lid garbage cans, and even food that patients want to present the dogs.” If you enroll in a therapy dog training school, the instructors will review “leave it” once a week; nevertheless, you should practice it as much as possible at home and on walks.

The triple Ds

Once you’ve mastered the fundamentals, Harantschuk advises that you should “continually boost length, distance, and distraction,” among other things. Dogs can’t just go from being surrounded by strangers and wheelchairs to being trained to sit and stay, so over the course of a few weeks, Harantschuk builds their tolerance, recall, auto-sit, and other essential commands, beginning with short bursts while the handler is right next to their dog and gradually increasing their ability to listen to their handlers in even the most chaotic of situations.

(After all, when a dog is surrounded by ten youngsters who are all eager to pat them, it is critical that the dog maintain his or her composure.) Of course, Harantschuk also assists her canine trainees in becoming “comfortable with walkers, canes, crutches, wheelchairs, IV towers, medication carts, rolling trash cans, and other specialized equipment,” as well as other types of equipment.

This gradual process of desensitization will assist in easing the transfer into a real-world working atmosphere.

Respect your dog’s boundaries

Ultimately, your dog has his or her own needs and boundaries that must be respected in order for them to be successful as therapy animals. People often want their dogs to be therapy dogs so that they may do some good for other people, and this is a worthy goal in and of itself. However, some people fail to see that they should always act as an advocate for the dog as well, in order to ensure that they have positive experiences when they are exposed to new situations. According to Whiteley, “encourage the dog to try things that are out of their comfort zone,” but “never compel them” and “always respect their reactions to things.” “I want my dog to know I am right there and will remove them from that awful circumstance,” she explains, citing the example of a youngster who is being overly aggressive with the dog.

The presence of a dog that understands that it has the choice to exit an uncomfortable circumstance means that the dog will be less likely to nip or bite at a person.”

Therapy Dog Certification and Training: What You Need to Know

Learning to train your dog to be a certified therapy dog is a fantastic way to strengthen your relationship and spend quality time with your pet. Therapy dogs are capable of delivering unconditional love and affection to their owners. Before anything else, your dog will need to go through some basic training to ensure that he or she has the good manners, social skills, and exposure to a variety of various environments that are essential for this sort of volunteer work. Therapy dogs are distinct from assistance dogs in that they do not perform tasks.

Mary R.

“A therapy dog is a dog that volunteers with their pet parent to bring comfort and support to individuals in a variety of situations, such as schools, hospitals, or assisted living homes.” It is possible that a therapy dog may be permitted to travel on flights and public transit as an emotional support animal after obtaining certification.

How to train a therapy dog

It’s important to understand that the first step in training an animal as a therapy dog is to enroll it in a basic therapy dog training program. “There are particular organizations that provide training, as well as private trainers,” explains Lina Eklöf, manager, pet services, dog training instruction at Petco. “There are certain organizations that provide training, as well as private trainers.” The importance of knowing that a private trainer has the expertise and ability to conduct therapy-work training should not be overlooked when choosing one.

This is one of the most basic tests available.

This exam includes the good manners that every dog should possess, such as arriving when commanded, sitting and down when instructed, staying when instructed, and behaving correctly to nice visitors and other dogs.

In the United States, the Canine Good Citizen exam is nationally regarded as a high level of dog conduct and as a pre-requisite for therapy dog training preparation.

Therapy dog certification

  • Following the completion of your CGC certification, you will need to contact an organization in order to get your pet certified as a pet therapy assistant. In some instances, you may be able to submit your application online. Others need your dog to be put through his or her paces in a hands-on testing environment. As Burch explains, “Therapy dog certification helps to verify that both the dogs and the people who work with them are well-trained, and it helps to lessen the liability for the facility.” A typical pet therapy exam for your dog’s certification will look at the following things: how your dog responds around other dogs
  • How your dog interacts with people
  • And how your dog interacts with other dogs. The degree to which your dog pays attention to you
  • If your dog is comfortable with strangers touching and handling them
  • As long as your dog doesn’t jump on people when you’re talking to them
  • As long as your dog walks on a leash without yanking
  • It is possible that your dog tolerates unfamiliar sounds and odors. If your dog remains calm while being petted
  • If your dog is OK with humans walking erratically, then go ahead. As Eklöf points out, “it is critical to set dogs up for success so that they can work successfully in a variety of settings with a variety of humans.” “Not every dog has the potential to be a therapy dog. “The socialization part of training a dog to be comfortable with and in a variety of environments must be considerable in order to achieve success.” In addition to various national organizations, the American Kennel Club maintains a thorough alphabetical list of therapy groups located around the country. While the American Kennel Club (AKC) does not have its own therapy-dog training program, they acknowledge the work done by the organizations mentioned above and will award a special AKC Therapy Dog title to dogs that have been certified by one of these organizations. It’s a great token of appreciation for the hard effort you and your pet have put in together. To retain therapy dog certification, your pet must be up to date on all vaccines necessary by local legislation and have a negative fecal test performed every 12 months in order to be certified. Therapy dogs should be kept clean and well-groomed at all times, as well.

How to make your dog a therapy dog

The next step after obtaining a CGC certification will be to contact an organization in order to have your pet certified as a pet therapy assistant. You may be able to submit your application online in some instances. Others demand your dog to be put through his or her paces in a hands-on environment. As Burch explains, “Therapy dog certification helps to guarantee that both the dogs and the people who work with them are well-trained, and it helps to lessen the liability for the facility.” When your dog is being tested for certification as a pet therapy dog, the following will be observed: how your dog interacts when around other dogs; how your dog behaves when around people; how your dog behaves when near children.

The degree to which your dog pays attention to your commands.

It is OK if your dog does not jump on people when they are interacting; If your dog walks on a leash without tugging; It is possible that your dog tolerates unusual sounds and scents.

As Eklöf points out, “it is critical to set dogs up for success so that they can operate successfully in a variety of situations with a variety of humans.” “Not every dog has the potential to be a therapy dog.” ‘The socialization component of educating a dog to be comfortable with and in a range of environments must be thorough,’ says the trainer.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) does not have its own therapy-dog training program; however, they acknowledge the work done by the organizations mentioned above and will award a specific AKC Therapy Dog title to dogs that have been certified by one of these organizations.

To retain therapy dog certification, your pet must be up to date on all vaccines necessary by local legislation and have a negative fecal test performed every 12 months in order to be eligible for future training opportunities.

How to Train Your Dog to be a Therapy Dog

There’s nothing quite like the satisfaction that comes from helping others, and training your dog to be a therapy dog is a fantastic opportunity to give back to the community in which you live. In addition to strengthening your relationship with your best friend throughout the process, you may establish fantastic connections by accompanying them on therapy appointments.

What is a therapy dog?

Nothing compares to the satisfaction that comes from helping others, and training your dog to be a therapy dog is an excellent way to give back to your community.

As you accompany your closest friend to therapy appointments, you can not only strengthen your friendship, but you will also make fantastic new friends as well.

What types of dogs can be therapy animals?

As stated by the American Kennel Club, “Therapy dog candidates should be naturally calm, sociable, and sympathetic toward strangers.”. It’s also important that they’re well-trained in basic obedience and that they’re able to adjust quickly to new sounds, environments, scents, and equipment. Additionally, therapy dog groups ask that therapy dogs be healthy and have regular wellness check-ups. They also require that therapy dogs be well-groomed, clean, and brushed throughout all visits.” Dogs of any breed can be trained to work as therapy animals.

  • If you have a puppy, make sure that it gets to spend time with individuals of all genders, body kinds, ages, and personalities.
  • You may train your pet to be calm and attentive in any scenario by employing a system of positive reinforcements.
  • This ten-step exam will assist you in training your pet to exhibit good conduct and responsiveness.
  • In addition to CGC certification, you may want to seek distraction-proofing lessons or advanced CGC certification, which includes Community and Urban exams that are taken in hectic, real-world scenarios such as packed streets.
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Therapy dog certification requirements

It is necessary for your dog to be at least one year old before he or she may register with a therapy dog organization such as the Alliance of Therapy Dogs or Therapy Dogs International, among others. In addition, your pet’s vaccinations must be up to date. In order to guarantee that your pet is ready for deployment, as well as your ability to handle and guide them, these organizations will perform exams. In preparation for the therapy dog certification exam, there may be precise requirements for the pet’s collar and leash, your footwear, and your overall professional look, both for you and your pet.

It is possible that the tester will recommend that you do not pursue therapy dog certification if your dog exhibits overt aggressiveness.

After therapy dog certification

Before beginning formal visits, you may opt to make a few house visits to people you know in order to assist your pet get more comfortable in their surroundings. You will be able to introduce your pet to a wide variety of different people and circumstances, as well as learn how your pet may assist individuals who are in need of therapeutic care. Depending on the breed, some pets will appreciate being petted and caressed, while others will give amusement through tricks and a cheerful temperament.

  • Your pet will be able to perform visits to patients with partner organizations once it has passed the handling exam and received approval from your certifying organization.
  • After that, you will be given permission to make independent visits.
  • For certification purposes, make sure to preserve meticulous records of each visit, including the signatures of staff members from each institution visited.
  • Depending on your certification organization’s offerings, you may be able to enroll your pet in a range of therapeutic skills training programs, and frequent treatment sessions will allow your dog to put these abilities into practice.
  • You should seek out a variety of scenarios so that your pet may have exposure to a diverse range of events.
  • Having earned the AKC Therapy Dog Title, your pet will most likely be invited to join a group of other therapy dog teams in the area who will be making home visits at the same time.

These, on the other hand, are completely voluntary and should have no impact on your pet’s ability to participate in treatment sessions.

Where can I take my therapy dog?

Over time, you will learn where your pet feels most at ease and where you can make the most difference in his or her life. Therapy dogs are in high demand at medical institutions; nursing homes, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and clinics are all good places for your therapy dog to work. Therapy dogs are frequently invited to educational programs as well. Dogs have the ability to develop excellent relationships with children in early reading programs and other educational settings, assisting them in gaining confidence and reaching critical milestones.

  1. If there aren’t any possibilities for therapy dogs in your area, consider creating your own opportunity.
  2. Dogs make wonderful companions for youngsters who are less vocal than their peers, who are socially reclusive, or who express fear frequently.
  3. Whatever occurs, the satisfaction that comes from serving as a therapy team is difficult to match.
  4. As your relationship with your pet grows stronger, you’ll notice that they become more empathic, loving, and loyal.

Can Your Dog Be a Therapy Dog? See If Your Pup’s Got the Right Stuff

People in their communities benefit from the comfort provided by therapy dogs, which helps make their days a bit brighter for those they assist. They are not the same thing, despite the fact that many people use the phrases therapy dog and service dog in the same sentence. “The majority of people are unaware that the phrases service dog, therapy dog, emotional support animal, and comfort animal are not all synonymous. It is quite uncommon that somebody attends one of our sessions and is aware that these terms refer to distinct things “Donna Frindt, executive director, instructor, and examiner at Project Canine in Seattle, Washington, explains how she came to be involved.

In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, “service dogs have legal access rights,” according to Frindt.

There are also psychiatric service animals that provide help for disorders such as severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).” According to Frindt, “therapy dogs are not protected by any legal rights whatsoever.” “They are intended to be taken out into the community with their handlers in order to provide emotional comfort to people in a variety of settings such as hospitals, elder care facilities, juvenile detention centers, hospice, and a variety of other types of facilities and schools where people would benefit from the assistance.” However, the fact that they do not have legal standing does not diminish the significance of their job.

  1. Therapy dogs perform wonderful deeds in their communities, bringing joy to those who might otherwise be dealing with a difficult situation.
  2. “All of our therapy dog teams have had a really good influence on the people who have encountered them in the different locations where they have gone.
  3. The comfort provided by an animal is unparalleled.
  4. Therapy dogs may be extremely beneficial for persons who have undergone trauma or are suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTS).
  5. A group of therapy dogs and handlers who had finished their therapy dog training program came their puppies to the scene to calm police officers who had been traumatized while reacting to the event.
  6. Visiting policemen at the Dallas Police Department with Brisbane the golden retriever.|
  7. According to Briggs, therapy dogs may be a tremendous source of comfort for children who have been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder or who have learning challenges.

They may be able to concentrate better if they are more comfortable. “Even just touching an animal can help children concentrate on their assignments. It makes it easier for them to go through school. The comfort provided by an animal is unparalleled.”

Can Any Dog Become a Therapy Dog?

The quick answer is no, but, strangely, this is not due to the breed of the dog. “Not every dog has the potential to be a therapy dog. There are particular characteristics of temperament, obedience skills, relationship with the handler, and other characteristics that a dog must possess in order to be an effective therapy dog. It’s a lot more difficult than it appears at first glance, as you can see “Frindt expresses himself. So, what decides whether or not a particular dog will be an effective therapy dog is the following: Different temperament features are quite crucial, and not all dogs are made out for the strong commitment required of them during the training process.

Confidence and Resilience

Dogs that have undergone past trauma or who have difficulty dealing with fear or anxiety may find it difficult to adapt to the therapy dog lifestyle. Dogs who do not experience excessive stress or separation anxiety are more likely to flourish in the large-group conditions that are frequent in therapy dog work scenarios. According to Briggs, in order to be a successful therapy canine, the dog must be adaptable enough to handle a variety of various settings with ease. “We live in a really diverse world, and we want a dog who is accustomed to being handled by a variety of individuals,” she explains.

Social Demeanor

A good therapy dog is sociable and enjoys meeting new people, but he or she is not excessively outgoing to the point where they become sidetracked from their job duties.

Cool, Calm, and Collected

A therapy dog must be mainly indifferent to stimuli, like stroking, and be able to recover rapidly after being subjected to harsh petting in order to be effective. As Briggs explains, “since you’re going to have things like people raising their voices, yanking on the dog’s tail or ears, or caressing them extremely hard, it needs to be an animal that can tolerate such things.” Although the resilience of a therapy dog is a significant component, it is the handler’s obligation to advocate for their dog and ensure that they are not treated harshly.


A therapy dog who is owner-focused is not unduly concerned with all that is going on in the world around them when they are not with their handler or in their immediate environment. When you engage in bonding activities with your dog early on in your relationship such as exercising together, playing games, and teaching your dog instructions, you may assist to establish a strong link between dog and handler.

Your Dog ActuallyWantsto Be a Therapy Dog!

“There are a variety of characteristics we seek for in a therapy dog, but the most essential is that the dog is enthusiastic about helping people. The most common error a prospective handler makes is assuming that their dog wants to be a therapy dog when in fact it does not, according to the American Therapy Dog Association “Frindt expresses himself. Nevertheless, as Briggs argues, the dog itself must be a good match for the one who will be receiving treatment from him or her. Even if a dog has a charming personality, he or she will want assistance from their owner in order to be successful.

The person must devote the necessary time to educate the dog to obey “she explains.

A therapy dog, a golden retriever, sits next to a youngster who is reading.

Credit: PROJECT CANINERight: Maylie the golden retriever is pictured at Project Canine’s Bow Wows and Books children’s literacy support program at the Seattle Public Library.|

Therapy Dog Training

“One of the most significant characteristics we seek for in a therapy dog is that the dog is enthusiastic about helping people. The most common error a prospective handler makes is assuming their dog wants to be a therapy dog when, in fact, it does not, according to the American Therapy Dog Association “In the words of Frindt, Nevertheless, as Briggs argues, the dog itself must be a good match for the individual who will be receiving treatment. It is possible for a dog to have a charming personality, but in order to achieve success, they will require the assistance of their owners.

Training in disobedience is something that the human must devote time to “This is what she has to say.

A therapy dog in the form of a golden retriever sits next to a youngster reading.

Credit: PROJECT CANINERight: Domino, a silky windhound, consoles a hospital patient during a bed visit.|

  • When something is on the ground or in someone’s hand, the ability to “leave it” is essential. Make the dog confident: The dog should be able to receive lots of love and attention without being excessively sociable or afraid and worried. Be accustomed to people from various walks of life: Individuals, settings, and activities from a variety of backgrounds are included. Be able to withstand the temptation to chase: The dog should be able to stroll by a human, another dog, or other animal without responding or pursuing them
  • And Be able to establish an emotional connection: “All dogs require a fundamental repertoire of obedience behaviors, which includes sit, down, wait/stay, come, and leave it, among others. Although we teach therapy dogs to perform “activities,” we do not train them to perform things per se since what they are doing is emotionally connecting with their visitors, not performing tasks for the visitors “Frindt adds further:

When something is on the ground or in someone’s hand, you should be able to “leave it.” Be self-assured: The dog should be able to receive a lot of attention without being excessively sociable or becoming afraid or uncomfortable. You should be accustomed to people from many walks of life. Individuals, locations, and activities from a variety of backgrounds are included; It must be able to resist the need to chase: The dog must be able to stroll past a human, another dog, or any other animal without responding or chasing them.

The fact is that we don’t teach therapy dogs to perform “things” per se since what they are really doing is connecting with their guests on an emotional level rather than performing tasks for them “The following is Frindt’s explanation:

Process for Therapy Dog Registration

Following successful completion of obedience training, a dog can enroll in a beginner-level obedience course, known as theCanine Good Citizen (CGC) program, which is approved by the American Kennel Club (AKG), and then sit for the CGC exam. The CGC exam is made up of ten skill tests, which include things like welcoming a nice stranger, sitting respectfully for petting, arriving when called, and other such things. While not needed, a passing grade awards the dog registration with the American Kennel Club (AKG).

Regardless of whether a dog participates in the Canine Good Citizen test or not, he or she is eligible to be registered with Pet Partners or a similar organization if they demonstrate promising potential during their training.

Even once a dog has been well-trained and recognized as a therapy dog, the training process does not end there.

Just like an athlete never stops training, a dog never stops training once he or she has his or her certification. It does not have to be as rigorous as it was previously, but you must continue to hone those talents or they will get rusty “Briggs underlines this point.

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