How To Train Your Dog To Become A Therapy Animal

Dogs are known for being excellent companions worldwide. Even if someone isn’t a dog person, they’ll still agree that canines are incredibly attuned with humans. And that is perhaps why the four-legged animals are so readily adopted as pets.

People love to bring dogs home to have ever-present company and meaningful support. Once a fur child becomes part of a family, the two become inseparable, and rightly so. Canines are such caring and expressive species that no one can resist falling in love with them. And this absolutely adorable nature is what makes dogs a source of comfort for not just the owner but also those suffering from an illness. Although not every dog can bring relief to a sick person, those who do are exceptional at their job.

Depressed, lonely, mentally ill people in nursing homes, hospitals, and other rehabilitation clinics need companionship, which they don’t often get enough. This is where dogs become a godsend because they fill the emptiness in the lives of those who are desperate for support. And such dogs are called therapy dogs.

If you want your fuzzy pal to be a comforting presence for people going through hard times, you can train them to become a therapy animal and give back to the community. Training a dog to become a therapy pet is not too challenging. You just have to teach your little fella to be friendly with strangers and respond to commands. Doing so may sound tricky, but it’s not. And to help you see that, we have this detailed guide for you.

Training your Dog

The standard procedure of getting a dog the title of a therapy animal entails taking behavioral tests conducted by different national therapy dog organizations. In order to pass said assessment, your canine companion needs to be well-adjusted so when they are tested in unfamiliar surroundings with unknown people, they do not react aggressively.

The key to passing the national therapy dog certification test is teaching your fluffy baby to be as companionable and obedient as they can be. To do that, you should take them to different localities brimming with strangers, let them socialize with other pets and allow them to process through a novel environment on their own.

If you do that from an early age, your fur child will learn all the essential qualities of a therapy dog, and that will help them clear the assessment without trouble.

The best part about helping your pet become a therapy animal is that you can do so on your own unless you wish to seek professional help. Unlike other therapeutic dogs that need to receive formal training or a medical prescription (decreeing an officially trained dog to assist a patient) to help others, therapy dogs can be someone’s savior without much ceremony. Simply put, other therapeutic dogs come from specialized facilities where they receive special training, but a therapy dog can be a pet staying with the owner and yet serve others when needed.

Moreover, therapy dogs get to work as a team with their owners. That is, you train your little sunshine and make them take the assessment. If they pass the examination, they are certified, and so are you because you trained the therapy animal. Subsequently, you and your best pal work as a duo.

Canine Good Citizen Test

Some owners can feel a little anxious about taking the therapy dog test as soon as they think their dog is ready, fearing failure. For such paw-parents, the American Kennel Community suggests that dogs take the Canine Good Citizen Test before going into the therapy dog assessment.

The Canine Good Citizen Test grants a dog the CGC status, and most dogs who pass this test succeed in becoming therapy animals quite easily. You can think of the CGC Test as a practice evaluation for your dog to help your furry friend prepare for the big show.

Therapy Dog Certification Requirements

Dogs participating in the therapy dog program need to be at least one year old. Puppies younger than that cannot apply for the certification. Aside from this particular prerequisite, there aren’t any other official requirements per se that dogs have to meet, but to pass the therapy dog evaluation, they have to be a certain way, which can qualify as requirements.

That is, canines taking the therapy dog test need to be calm and good-natured; they should be approachable and well-groomed, they cannot be aggressive, they must respond to instructions, etc. Simply put, the qualities needed in a dog to become a therapy animal have to be displayed during the evaluation, which resultantly count as requirements.

If your fuzzy friend fails to exhibit the needed demeanor, they will not receive the certification.

Want your dog to be a source of positivity and happiness for people going through difficult times? Then make sure that your four-legged companion is amicable and listens to cues. And the best method to achieve that is exposing them to new and diverse environments from a young age.

After the Certification

Once you get the certification, you might want to take your little fellow to people you know to test their abilities. Doing so will give you a clear idea of how ready your dog is to help others.

After your furry champion has proved themselves, you can begin going to official visits. Typically, the certifying organization hooks dog owners with institutions where their dog’s services are needed.

Different dogs prefer different activities. Some may enjoy being cuddled, while others might respond well and turn out to be more helpful from a safe distance. Your canine companion will also fall be inclined towards a few particular tasks, which you can learn about after taking them to a bunch of places and testing their capabilities. Once you know their strengths, you can help them play to those strong points and make a significant difference in people’s lives.

Ending Point

Dogs are super-friendly and loving if trained right. Be sure you play by your fur child’s innate nature and allow them to give care to those in need of it.

by Bobby J Davidson || You can’t buy love, but you can rescue it™

Facts About Animal Homelessness:

  1. Only 1 out of every 10 dogs born will find a permanent home.
  2. The main reasons animals are in shelters: owners give them up, or animal control finds them on the street.
  3. Each year, approximately 2.7 million dogs and cats are killed every year because shelters are too full and there aren’t enough adoptive homes. Act as a publicist for your local shelter so pets can find homes. Sign up for Shelter Pet PR.
  4. Approximately 7.6 million companion animals enter animal shelters nationwide every year. Of those, approximately 3.9 million are dogs and 3.4 million are cats.
  5. According to the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy (NCPPSP), less than 2% of cats and only 15 to 20% of dogs are returned to their owners.
  6. 25% of dogs that enter local shelters are purebred.
  7. About twice as many animals enter shelters as strays compared to the number that are relinquished by their owners.
  8. It’s impossible to determine how many stray dogs and cats live in the United States. Estimates for cats alone range up to 70 million.
  9. Only 10% of the animals received by shelters have been spayed or neutered. Overpopulation, due to owners letting their pets accidentally or intentionally reproduce, sees millions of these “excess” animals killed annually.
  10. Many strays are lost pets that were not kept properly indoors or provided with identification.
  11. According to The Humane Society, there are about 3,500 brick-and-mortar animal shelters in the US and 10,000 rescue groups and animal sanctuaries in North America.

Here are a some adoptions for consideration: