dog training, dog behavior, dog health

Improve Lives with Qualified Therapy Dog Training

The use of therapy dogs in helping people in hospitals, nursing homes, institutions and in numerous other circumstances is so important that it’s essential that the dogs get the right therapy dog training.

First, we must understand exactly what therapy dogs do.  They differ from service dogs (for example, companion dogs and guard gods) in that the duties they perform are done by request--that is, their services are requested; and they must first be certified as canine good citizens. 

Some situations where therapy dogs bring joy to and improve the lives of patients include visiting medical centers where they work with returning soldiers with severe injuries, children’s rehabilitation centers, family assistance centers, AIDS centers, adult day care centers. They even assist in programs that help children with behavioral problems as well as reading related difficulties.

Therapy dogs must be obedient, of a calm temperament and well behaved. Organizations that offer this specialized dog therapy training focus on reinforcing these characteristics.

One such group is a volunteer organization called Therapy Dog International, founded in 1976. They register all breeds of dogs. The dog must be at least one year old and “be of sound temperament” they say, and must pass the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen Test. They test your dog’s behavior “around people with the use of some type of service equipment (wheelchairs, crutches, etc.).” You can learn more about TDI from their website.

As important as the dog’s temperament is to the success of dog training therapy and work so too is the personality of the handler/owner.  After all, the therapy dog works together with its handler.  It’s a partnership that interacts with those in need by loving, encouraging, bonding, understanding and providing comfort and companionship.

An organization that recognizes this work is the Delta Society which runs a Pet Partners program that trains and screens volunteers and their pets for visits to facilities that require such services.  Their website has a wealth of information.

Helping people who are frail and elderly, ill, disabled, confined or abused need the invaluable services of therapy dogs.  These dogs can provide the therapeutic medicine that doesn’t come from a pill or a bottle—comfort, laughter, affection, hope. So they must have the necessary qualified therapy dog training to accomplish their worthwhile mission.


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