What is a Therapy Dog and How to Train Dogs for Therapy

What is a Therapy Dog and How to Train Dogs for Therapy

5 minutes read

You should know that dogs are very beneficial to dogs and that is why the public’s interest in them is increasing with each passing day. One of the benefits that dogs can provide us is by becoming Therapy Dogs. If you are unaware of what a Therapy Dog is, then allow us to enlighten you. Therapy dogs are those canines that can provide you relief and relaxation in situations that are defined by anxiety. They impart comfort to people who are recovering from grief or are suffering from loneliness.

A therapy dog can provide affection and comfort to people who are suffering from emotional or physical trauma. They are found in numerous facilities and are not service dogs or emotional support animals. This means that they don’t require the pertinent documentation or approvals either. In short, therapy dogs are amazing and can brighten up a forlorn person’s day.

If you are interested in learning more about therapy dogs, how they are trained, and whether if your dog can become a therapy dog, then keep on reading:

Why Train a Therapy Dog?

This is a big question for many people. So, allow us to answer it. A therapy dog entails many benefits for the people that it visits. They can go to hospitals, nursing homes, disaster areas, schools, libraries, etc. These dogs can assist in mitigating anxiety levels, blood pressure, heart rate, and feelings of loneliness amongst the people in these places. These dogs can lead to an increase in the levels of oxytocin and endorphins in these people which is great. However, this is a mutually beneficial relationship in as such that the therapy dogs also benefit from this interaction. The rate of oxytocin and endorphins in therapy dogs also increases and is higher in contrast to other dogs.

The final thing that a therapy dog needs are registration or certification from a national organization of good repute. This is integral if you want your dog to become a therapy dog because, without certification, your dog won’t be able to enter a facility.

Which Dogs can become Therapy Dog?

Not all dogs are suited to becoming therapy dogs as it takes more than the ability to give love to become one. Likewise, your being an empathetic person doesn’t qualify you to become a therapy dog handler as well. Certain parameters need to be attained if you want to become a therapy dog handler and your dog to become a therapy handler.

First of all, your dog needs to be an adult as puppies are forbidden from becoming therapy dogs by many competent organizations. But then again, some do allow so. Your dog will also have to pass the CGC, or Canine Good Citizen, Test. The latter test your dog for obedience and compliance as well as on other scales. Some things that are crucial to passing this test are affable and friendly behavior towards children and the ability to obey the “Leave it” command effectively. Failing in either of these areas will result in immediate failure.

The breed isn’t something that matters in the path to becoming a therapy dog. Smaller breeds like Yorkshire terriers to larger ones like Shepherds, can pass the CGC and become Therapy Dogs. Your dog must not be too young, too energetic and bouncy, and possess a socially apt temperament to become a therapy dog.

If your dog loves to interact with new people and scenarios, seeks attention from people, possesses a calm attitude, and is socially outgoing then perhaps you should consider training it as a therapy dog. Also, if you want to become a therapy dog handler then you should consider taking a dog cognitive training course. You can also get help from other therapy dog handlers and get helpful tips on the subject concerned. It will also help if you try to remain healthy, fit, and agile as a handler as certification authorities connect with the client as well and it will leave a good impression on them.

How to Train Therapy Dogs:

The path to training a therapy dog is fraught with difficulty and hurdles. You will need to remain consistent and steadfast in your approach. That is precisely the reason why even the best of dog trainers can’t become a good therapy dog handler. It is because they are lacking the attitude and temperament required for the job. You should know that some dogs that are usually tricky to train can end up becoming marvelous therapy dogs nonetheless. All they need is the right training style and they will be good to go. If you are interested in training your dog as a therapy dog then you will have to adhere to the following tips meticulously:

  • Get your dog to meet new people, go to new places, surfaces, or interact with new objects more. In short, socialize your dog to an increased degree
  • You should invest extra time in teaching your dog to follow commands such as “leave it” and “watch me”, “four on the floor”( refraining from jumping on people), loose leash walking immaculately. These behaviors are highly significant if you want your dog to obtain the AKC Canine Good Citizen title. The latter is after all necessary to becoming a therapy dog after all and these behaviors are the key to obtaining it
  • You should consider opting for achieving the AKC Advanced Canine Good Citizen level for your dog if you want to practice CGC test items in the real world. If you are going to be operating in bustling urban areas then it is at the Urban CGC level that you should strive to attain
  • You can also enroll your dog in a class that will prepare it for becoming a therapy dog and making visits to people that need them. Most of these classes hold an evaluation/exam after the course to check the effectiveness of the dog’s training
  • Once your dog is done with the exams and tests and whatnot, the final step involves you getting it registered with a reputable national therapy dog organization. Then you and your dog can start making visits and illuminating the lives of those that need cheering up.

You should also never forget to remain consistent and responsible and ensure that your dog becomes the best therapy dog it can be.