Humans have long relied on dogs to work in the fields or protect their homes. As time has passed, we have also learned more about their exceptional qualities in comforting and loving us, which make them perfect for other roles, such as being therapy dogs.
What does a therapy dog do, and how can your pup become one? Let’s dive in!
What Is a Therapy Dog?
When you’re feeling down or you’ve had a bad day at work, what’s the first thing you turn to for reassurance? Your little pup! They improve your mood and motivate you to push through on days you don’t feel like it. That’s precisely what therapy dogs do — they provide comfort and much-needed attention to strangers in challenging situations.
Owners volunteer their certified therapy dogs at hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, group homes, nursing homes and schools. Residents, patients and students hug, pet and play with these dogs, benefitting from their relaxing and reassuring presence. However, unlike service dogs, therapy dogs are not protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act, meaning they can only enter public places with their owners if they are granted permission.
Why Do People Need Therapy Dogs?
Dogs are sensitive and attentive creatures that provide unconditional love. Therapy dogs can offer psychological and physiological benefits to anyone, although they are most often utilized by those suffering from mental health challenges, psychiatric disorders or traumatic accidents. A dog’s companionship can:
- Reduce stress levels.
- Take someone’s mind off their problems.
- Decrease feelings of loneliness.
- Boost confidence.
- Encourage exercise.
How Can Your Dog Become Therapy Certified?
To become a therapy dog, your four-legged friend must be an adult, pass the AKC Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test and obtain certification from a therapy-specific program. The CGC test teaches dogs basic obedience skills such as sitting and staying on cue, allowing handling from strangers and walking on a leash. This test is often a prerequisite for therapy programs, which prepares your dog to work in various therapy settings.
Dogs of all ages, sizes and breeds can become assistance dogs in therapeutic settings. Having a pleasant personality is essential to their success in providing emotional support. Ideally, they should be calm, confident, friendly, affectionate, disciplined and adaptable. If your dog has these qualities and loves to meet new people, volunteering might be the perfect job for them.
Sign up for Therapy Dog Training at Off Leash K9 Training
Our skilled and certified trainers at Off Leash K9 Training Maryland are here to help if you’re interested in train and evaluate for certification your dog as a therapy volunteer. We offer private, personalized therapy dog training sessions seven days a week, so you can prepare your dog while checking everything off your packed to-do list.
Want to learn more about our Therapy Dog Development Course? Call 443-743-3221 or contact us online!