What is a Therapy Dog?
Therapy dogs provide emotional and/or physical support to people in hospitals, nursing homes or other medical facilities. It is based on the human – animal bond; the affection that dogs have for people and that people have for dogs.
“Anyone who has felt a connection with a pet and experienced that unconditional love, understanding, and acceptance, knows the value of a pet’s companionship. These qualities make animals ideal therapeutic visitors for patients in hospitals and other medical facilities.” ~Animal Health Foundation
Will My Dog Be a Good Therapy Dog?
A therapy dog can be any size, body shape, breed, mixture of breeds, color, coat type, or sex. The most important factor is personality. A therapy dog should be even-tempered, good-natured, and be able to accept handling by people they don’t know. Primarily, therapy dogs should enjoy being around people!
What Training Will My Dog Need to be a Therapy Dog?
First, therapy dogs must master basic obedience skills, including:
- Lay Down
- Remain in a down/stay for two minutes
- Leave it
Therapy dog training includes exposing the dog to all kinds of people: the elderly or frail, children, and adults. Regular visits to various places such as parks and shopping centers allow your dog to get used to all kinds of people. Dogs should also be exposed to items such as wheelchairs, carts, walkers, and strollers.
What Kind of Assistance Will My Therapy Dog Provide?
Assistance may be emotional: by showing the person being visited that s/he is loved and lovable. The person being visited may smile, cry, hug the dog, pet the dog, or laugh while the dog performs tricks.
The help might also be physical, encouraging a stroke victim to move an arm by petting the dog or throwing a ball for the dog. Any help the therapy dog provides is based on the relationship, the bond, people and dogs have shared for thousands of years.
Acme Canine Center’s Therapy Dog Training
Acme Canine Center partners with Yakima Valley Love On a Leash, a local organization made up of volunteers and their dogs bringing joy to others in the community. Classes start every 7 weeks and consist of a 3-week program where your dog will receive their Canine Good Citizen Certificate and a 3-week program to prepare you and your dog for the Control Evaluation. In the final week, you and your dog will go out to the community and visit a facility.
If you think your dog would make a good therapy dog, call us today to sign up for a class: 509-574-4008