Monthly Archives: August 2015

Certified Therapy Dog Training in Virginia

At our dog training lessons in Virginia, we offer certified Therapy Dog Courses for dogs of all sizes, ages, and breeds!

Of course we love our cats, hamsters, rabbits, chinchillas, goats, chickens, and any other pets we have. But only one pet has been ever deemed consistently as “man’s best friend” and that is our dogs. In these loving and loyal creatures, one can find comfort, love and companionship. These are things that many people in confined living situations such as hospitals or assisted living homes often need. That is where therapy dogs come in.

Therapy animals serve to bring love, comfort and happiness to places ranging from hospitals to schools or universities. There are many cases where family and friends cannot seem to visit and connecting with a therapy dog often times fills that void. Scientific research has demonstrated that interaction with a therapy dog helps improve all facets of a patient including their mental, emotional and physical well being, which then results in a better and faster recovery. Some of the health benefits include decrease in stress and anxiety, blood pressure, and loneliness. In addition, contact with therapy animals creates an increase in socialization, level of fitness, and mental stimulation.

Do you have a loving dog who would make an amazing therapy dog? Therapy animals must absolutely adore human contact and excessive petting. Additionally, they must be comfortable staying one place regardless of whether it is the floor or a lap. No tricks are necessary, however, ability to follow basic obedience commands is a must. But the thing that distinguishes an ideal therapy dog is a gentle, loving and patient temperament.

If your dog fits the above description, you may not even need to undergo therapy dog training. To test them out, at our facility in Northern Virginia, we do the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen Testing and perform the tests with your dog before doing a formal evaluation. If they can successfully achieve all the objectives, head straight to evaluation!  We are certified Therapy Dog Trainers/Evaluators through TPU (Therapy Pets Unlimited). We provide extensive training to handlers and therapy dogs before pursuing certification.

Once you and your dog have undergone your necessary training, you must head to an evaluation. There are a few organization that only requires submission of a copy of AKC Canine Good Citizen certification and your application, however, a majority of organizations also require testing by members of their own organization. The evaluation includes your dog’s ability to accept a friendly stranger, sit politely for petting, an evaluation of appearance (is your dog well groomed), ability to stay in one place, and a few more skills. As the handler, throughout the evaluation, you will not expected to stand by as your dog performs skills. You should act proactively, as you would on the job, by foreseeing any misconduct. For example, if you enter a room with another dog, gently tell your dog there isn’t a need to bark rather than doing nothing or trying to calm them down after they’ve begun barking.

After you pass your test, you are required to submit a health evaluation done by your vet. The once you’ve register your therapy animal organization, you will officially have therapy dog certification and can serve your community freely!

If you are interested in your dog becoming a Certified Therapy dog, please contact us at or 571-252-5536


-Nick White
Off Leash K9 Training