How To Make My Dog a Therapy Dog For Myself? » PETSHORT


Deciding to volunteer together with your dog as a therapy team is a commendable tribute. In any case, therapy dogs help brighten so many individuals’s days while also providing them with a helpful calming effect.

Luckily, getting your dog therapy dog certification is comparatively easy. This is very true in case your dog is well trained, socialized, and has a peaceful and friendly disposition.

Here I will likely be explaining exactly what you want to do to make your dog a therapy dog. Please note that this recommendation is for therapy dog certification inside the USA, so you will have to do additional research in case you live out of the country.

What are Therapy Dogs and What Makes Them so Great?

Therapy dogs work to enhance the emotional well-being of those around them. While the therapy dog may only be around an individual for a comparatively short period of time, this experience tends to have lasting positive impacts on an individual.

When most individuals consider therapy dogs, they picture a dog visiting people in hospitals and nursing homes. There’s a excellent reason for this. Most people in these facilities are going through loads of emotional stress. In any case, hearing bad news about poor health or the passing of a friend or loved one is an incredibly emotional time in someone’s life.

Studies have shown that bringing therapy dogs into these environments has lasting positive impacts on the emotional well-being of their patients and residents. This positive impact sometimes improves a person’s overall health as well. Schools have also seen that therapy dogs profit a toddler’s learning, especially for kids with special needs. This has led to more therapy dogs entering classrooms.

Top Tip: While any breed can potentially turn out to be a therapy dog, certain breeds could have specific requirements or restrictions. For instance, it’s possible you’ll be wondering if an American Bully may be trained to be a service dog. You’ll find out more about this topic in our article “Can an American Bully Be a Service Dog?”

How To Train Your Dog To Be a Therapy Dog

Luckily, it’s pretty easy to make dogs with solid temperaments therapy dogs. All you would like is a few extra training, certification, and practice.

Here’s a step-by-step guide on making your dog a therapy dog.

1. Teaching Basic Commands

Step one in preparing your dog to be a therapy dog is teaching them basic commands. 

All therapy dogs should be well trained. This helps the handler of the dog stay on top of things while volunteering, and it also keeps the dog and people around them secure.

Listed below are a few of the commands that each therapy dog must know:

  • Sit
  • Lie Down
  • Leave It
  • Stay
  • Come (Recall)
  • Focus (Have a look at You)
  • Heel and Walking With a Loose Leash

There are another commands that could be helpful for therapy dogs, but not absolutely obligatory. Commands like Up (to climb up onto something), Drop It, and Rest (to put their head in someone’s lap) are great examples.

2. Socialization for Therapy Dogs

Therapy dogs must even be incredibly well-socialized. It is because therapy dogs should be calm yet confident in every given situation.

Socializing your therapy dog with other animals, quite a lot of environments, situations and stimuli, and folks of all ages and appearances is a vital within the therapy dog training plan.

Moreover, it’s a very good idea to socialize your therapy dog with things like medical equipment, wheelchairs, walkers, and canes. It is because it is amazingly likely that your therapy dog will likely be around this stuff in the longer term. It’s best to start out this process as early as possible.

Socialization for therapy dogs

3. Temperament Testing for Therapy Dog Candidates

Temperament testing is used to evaluate a dog’s suitability for therapy work.

Therapy dogs should be friendly, calm, and totally non-reactive. This includes not reacting to loud sounds, falling objects, people, or other animals.

They have to even be tolerant of things like rough handling and petting. It is because many children, elderly individuals, and people with mobility problems may pet a dog roughly by accident.

A temperament test will evaluate your dog to be certain that they tick all of those boxes. It’s endorsed that you simply temperament test your dog before you begin therapy dog training classes.

4. Training Classes for Preparing Your Dog to be a Therapy Dog

There are numerous great therapy dog training classes designed to arrange you and your dog for therapy dog certification.

You’ll find some great therapy dog programs through the AKC with the Canine Good Citizen class and test. That is an important precursor for therapy dog certification. 

Petco offers therapy dog training classes that deal with developing the abilities and temperament required for therapy work, and likewise covers basic obedience and socialization. The AKC Canine Good Citizen Test is obtainable through Petco as a part of the Therapy Dog Certification process

To assist your dog turn out to be a confident and effective therapy dog, Petsmart also offers a 6-week therapy dog training course at $169. The course covers the basics of therapy work, corresponding to behavior modification and certification preparation.

There are numerous dog trainers and dog training centers that provide canine good citizen classes for between $100 and $150 for a 6 week course.

Dog training classes

5. Practice Makes Perfect: Preparing Your Dog for Therapy Work

Practice all the time makes perfect, especially with the extensive dog training needed for therapy dogs.

Proceed practicing training and socializing your dog to recent things including helping your dog feel confident and relaxed in therapy settings.

6. Certifying Your Dog as a Therapy Dog

There are numerous several types of therapy dog certification, they usually can vary in price greatly. In accordance with the AKC, passing your Canine Good Residents test is all you want to start therapy work. Once your dog has done some volunteering, they’ll then receive further therapy dog certification.

The price of certification for each CGC and therapy dog titles is around $40 and should be done through the AKC.

7. Volunteering as a Therapy Dog Team

Once your dog has received their CGC certification, all you want to do is locate a spot to volunteer.

Volunteering is an important technique to gain practical experience and make a positive impact in your community as a therapy dog team.

You possibly can contact nursing homes, hospitals, and schools to see in the event that they are accepting therapy dogs as volunteers.

Once you might have found a volunteer location, arrange a time and date to your first session. You possibly can slowly increase the length and frequency of your visits over time as you gain reputability and your dog gets more used to the work.

Preparing Your Dog For Therapy Work

8. Ongoing Education for Therapy Dog Teams

It’s all the time a very good idea to remain up-to-date on current training methods and proposals for therapy dogs. That is even after you might have been volunteering for some time. Staying up-to-date will help keep you knowledgeable and savvy in regards to the therapy dog world.

You possibly can do that through official therapy dog workshops, seminars, and even just speaking with other therapy dog trainers and handlers.

Next Read: Difference Between Service Dog and Emotional Support Dog


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