What is a Therapy Dog and what do they do? The dog and owner are volunteers, the dogs are initially chosen after careful evaluation of their behavior and for their gentle demeanor. The dog and handler are then trained and evaluated as a team to interact with seniors, hospitalized, disabled or mentally handicapped patients and/or children, temporarily taking their minds off their illnesses or situations.
Although some people have the misconception that the dogs are “given up” after the training, this is far from factual. These dogs are all family pets that will perform very special volunteer work at many facilities around your area after training. They are trained and handled by their owner.
These dogs are also being successfully used in various schools, including “special needs” schools, to give the students focus on achieving scholastic goals and also positive interaction with others.
Special dogs doing a special job – Therapy Dogs are making a big impact all over the country in every type of facility you can think of, and the need for these special volunteers is growing.
What would your dog need to learn? Normally the dog and handler would need to complete a Basic Obedience course, make a few practice visits with the evaluator, then be Tested and Evaluated by a Tester/Evaluator for one of the certifying organizations such as Therapy Dogs Incorporated where both of my dogs are certified.
The dog needs to have a very gentle and stable disposition and the evaluator would make the decision, Can any dog do it? Yes, most can after some training. Do all dogs make it? nope.
Therapy Dog Group Locator – Want to get involved with Animal Assisted Therapy? well here’s a page to help you find a group in or near your area.