Research has shown that dog owners could be in a better mood, according to several studies people who own dogs are less depressed and stressed. Though more research are been carried out, we can categorically say dogs have a very positive effect on the human health, especially when it comes to emotions and this is where Therapy dogs are been discussed. these types of trained dogs are not the same as service dogs. While service dogs are trained to perform daily task for the disabled , therapy dog is to be affectionate, caring and bring joy to people in hospitals, nursing home, and other patient care facilities. Young, well-socialized dogs in good health are best candidates to become therapy dogs.
Though owners can also make the rounds joining their dogs to spread a little happiness on an informal basis in recent times some facilities require that their dogs be certified
Before you begin any process of certification, Mary Galloway, a behaviorist and founder of the Fairfax county pets on wheels, says its advisable to get to know your dog first. Is your dog comfortable with new people and able to take on new situations? Is your dog comfortable around other dogs and can tolerate loud noises without bolting towards the nearest door? If you are satisfied that your dogs temperament is perfect for a therapy dog, go on to check your local area for certification organization.
At the least, the therapy dog should have the ability to complete these basics
- Leave it
- Walking past a neutral dog.
The dog should want to do these interactions, it should not all be like a robot in its obedience to the point that it cannot share its personality with its owner. in often words the dog should welcome petting, for example, the dog can lay its head on the leg of a child playing or reading on the floor.
Dogs on therapy training should be comfortable with these also
- handling nails and paws
- grabbing scruff
- staring into the eyes
- prolonged hugs
- grabbing things
- jerky movements
- Several people surrounding it at once
Dogs should also learn how to respond unsettling situation and sounds like,
- unusual smell
- hall ways
- wheel chairs
- fire alarm
If your dog displays any or all of the following behaviors he may not yet be ready for therapy work.
- Lack of house-training skills
- Growling and barking towards humans
- Growing and barking towards dogs or other animals
- Medical concerns. Example are fatigue, stiffness, excessive panting , sings of discomfort, etc.
The handler surprisingly needs to also be trained in
- proper handling of leash
- stress reduction and conflict management
- proper hygiene and attire for you and the dog
- infection prevention
- effective communication skills
- The policies and procedure of the facility.
With your certification in your hand, you can now go ahead to register you and your dog as a therapy team with any of the national therapy dog organization.
Lots of dog therapy dog organization provides liability coverage for therapy dog team volunteers, but it is very important to adhere to an organization procedures and policies.
Types of dogs that can be used for therapy
Therapy dog candidates are to be naturally friendly and affectionate to strangers, they also should be trained in basic obedience. Therapy dog organizers mostly require that these dogs are kept healthy and have regular wellness checkups, clean and brushed at the time of all visits. Generally, dogs of any breed can become therapy pets.
Early socialization has been proven to be the key to ensuring well adjusted, friendly pets who can adopt to different settings. If you want your puppy to end up a therapy dog, be sure to have it spend time around people of different gender, personalities, age and body types. Your dog should be able to feel comfortable around people with variety of voices, people wearing hats. You can as well use a system of positive rewards to help your puppy stay calm and focused in any situation or environment.
It has been recommended by AKC that dogs pass the canine good citizen test before therapy specific training. These steps test helps your dog demonstrate excellent behavior and responsiveness. You can either train your dog yourself or enroll for classes offered by local organizations. After your dog obtains CGC, you could also consider advanced CGC certification which includes community and urban tests conducted in real life situations such as crowded walkways. Dogs who struggle to complete these tests successfully are likely not good candidates to become therapy dogs.
Requirements for certification
- Your dog must be at least a year old before they can be registered with a therapy dog organization ‘we have organizations such as the Alliance of therapy dogs and therapy dogs international.
- Your dog’s vaccine must be up to date also.
- The above mentioned organizations will conduct tests to be sure your dog is ready as well as your own capacity to handle and guide them.
For the therapy certification test, there may be specific expectations regarding the dog’s collar and leash, your footwear and your appearance professionally for you and your dog. Unwanted behaviors such as jumping, barking or mouthing may get the tester to recommend that you return after further behavioral training or when the dog is better in socializing. If your dog displays aggression, the tester may recommend against pursuing therapy certification, though any dog that has been able to obtain CGC certification should be stable enough to pass the handling test effortlessly.
In conclusion, maybe you will be inspired to train more dogs or find that your dog is particularly exceptional and could be a great service dog as well. However it happens, the reward of volunteering as a therapy team is quite hard to beat. Outside the fact that you will get to make friends, you get to bond well with your dog seeing them become more emphatic and steadfast. It’s been said that there is more than enough love to go round when you and your therapy dog bring your strength to the world.