What Makes A Good Therapy Dog?
At our dog training facility in Northern Virginia, we recently had 8 out of 8 of our trained dogs pass the therapy dog certification with Therapy Dog International.
While there are certain people who like the idea of using their dog in one of the registered therapy programs, not every dog is a suitable candidate to be a therapy dog. Dogs come in many temperaments, just as people do. In order to be a good therapy dog, the animal must adore people, all types of people. A dog who only loves its master, or really isn’t all that interested in any people is not appropriate to take into a situation where many new people are going to be trying to interact with the pet. Here are some other characteristics that are important.
The dog must be a fairly calm and laid back animal. Obviously, a dog who consistently jumps up on people to greet them is not suitable in a nursing home or hospital. Many people do not want to be licked by a pet or even nudged over-enthusiastically. Often a dog with more maturity will handle this aspect better than a two year old pet.
Some animals do better with children and others work well with seniors. It’s important not to force the animal into contact with people that make him or her anxious. Dogs who are easily startled or frightened by new situation would not be good in a hospital where there are loudspeakers, rolling carts and other noises result in chaos. You must be able to be assured of your dog’s non-reactive nature.
A therapy dog must be clean and in good health. Visiting children that are immune compromised with an animal carrying germs from outdoors could be a disaster. Dogs who serve as therapy dogs must undergo bathing and stringent health checks on a regular basis. Germs can be spread from dogs to people, but illnesses can also travel in the other direction.
Some dogs seem to have a special awareness of their role and how important they are to the people they meet. They don’t seem to mind preparing for an upcoming visit by bathing and dental care. They are the dogs that will head for the person most in need of an emotional connection and form that bond with no input from the dog owner.
If you are interested in getting your dog therapy certified, contact us at Off Leash K9 Training, LLC and look at our therapy dog development course. This is an 8 week course that is designed specifically to help you and your dog pass the therapy dog certification.