Do you think your dog has what it takes to become a certified therapy dog? Are you interested in volunteer opportunities with schools, libraries, nursing facilities, hospitals, or other locales?
Alliance for Therapy Dog’s Mission states: Therapy dogs and their handlers share smiles and joy with people of all ages!
Benefits of A Therapy Dog
The benefits of therapy dogs are numerous; physical benefits for those visited by a therapy dog and handler team are just the beginning! There are many social benefits to a visit from a therapy dog:
- promotes self-esteem
- focuses interaction with others
- reduces heart rate and blood pressure
- reduces anxiety
- increases endorphins
Prerequisites to Get your Dog Certified
Many organizations require testing of both the dog and the handler. The exam is designed to ensure the handler and dog have a good relationship with each other as well as, the dog having the right temperament.
Many therapy dog programs require the Canine Good Citizen award. The CGC program is a training program for this work. Included in the program are bonding, socialization, and basic obedience. Their tagline is “Responsible Owners, Well-Mannered Dogs”.
Dogs in the CGC program must pass a 10 step non-competitive test. The steps include the following:
- Accepting a friendly stranger
- Sitting politely for petting
- Appearance and grooming
- Walking on a loose lead
- Walking through a crowd
- Sit, down, stay on command
- Come when called
- Reactions to other dogs
- Reaction to distractions
- Supervised separation
Additionally, the handler must subscribe to the AKC Responsible Dog Owner’s Pledge. Their pledge states that they will uphold responsibilities that go with dog ownership including agree to keep their dog in good health, providing opportunities for training and exercise, and provide for the overall quality of life for the dog.
How To Tell If Your Dog is A Good Therapy Dog Candidate
Socialization is key; a therapy dog must be friendly, well-mannered, able to follow commands and be well handled by the human of his team (you). A therapy dog’s sole purpose is to provide comfort and affection to those they visit, most often a hospital typesetting.
Dogs who are great candidates to become a Therapy Dog love being around people, aren’t frightened by loud noises and don’t experience anxiety in new places, surrounded by new sights, smells, and things.
Getting Your Dog Certified
Once you think your dog is ready to become certified as a therapy dog, you both will have to be tested. An observer (TO) will monitor you and your dog during three visits to a facility.
What will your dog be tested on?
Manners, friendliness with strangers, ability to follow directions.
Additionally, your skills in handling the dog will be watched. If all goes well during your three on-site observed visits, you’ll be given the go-ahead to submit your application and be on your way to becoming a certified therapy team!
Founded by Nicole Brown Packin in 2007, Miami Pet Concierge offers an unmatched suite of professional and quality in-home pet care services. Designed to eliminate any stress and worry of Miami’s busy pet owners, our mission is to keep our client’s pets happy at home because we care when you can’t be there!