Could Your Dog Be a Therapy Pet?
Dogs have a calming presence that helps the people around them feel at ease. This inherent calm is part of why therapy dogs are great at comforting people in scary or lonesome situations. If you’ve ever thought your dog would make a good therapy dog, here are some questions to ask yourself.
Does she like being touched?
Lots of different people will want to pet your dog as part of their therapy, and the formal certification evaluation may include someone inspecting her paws, ears and tail for cleanliness. Your dog will need to be used to this kind of contact before she can become a therapy dog.
Is she a friend to everyone?
Therapy dogs come in contact with lots of different types of people, from small children to older adults. A good therapy dog is kind to everyone regardless of age, gender or whether they were ever a mail carrier.
Does she bite?
Most organizations that certify therapy dogs take a pretty hard line on this issue. If a dog has ever bitten a human, she is disqualified from therapy service.
Is she calm in a commotion?
Between moving carts, wheelchairs and loud noises, hospitals and nursing facilities can be hectic places. A good therapy dog is able to be calm and focused in these environments despite the chaotic vibe.
How well does she listen?
Every dog should learn some basic obedience, but therapy dogs need to be hyper vigilant. Work with your dog to make sure she is so well trained, she will follow your commands as soon as you make them — even if you make them from across the room.
Is she still a puppy?
Puppies bring joy wherever they go, but most organizations ask that dogs be at least one year old before they start volunteering. Still, it’s never too early to start teaching her good manners and therapy techniques.
Can she resist temptation?
A therapy dog will be put in situations where there may be food or other interesting things on the floor. If your pup can ignore these temptations, she has the makings of a focused therapy dog.
How patient is she?
Sometimes volunteering means a whole lot of waiting, so a good therapy dog has to be patient while staying calm and collected.
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