How Do I Train My Dog to Be a Therapy Dog?

Dogs are amazing in the emotional support they provide and the tricks they can learn! The world is a tough place, but thankfully dogs make life better always!

Sometimes a dog is talented in the skill of comforting and bringing joy to others.

Owners who observe this influence may want to take the next step. It is true that some dogs take on the mission of providing safety, comfort, and love as a legitimate job. These dogs are known as therapy dogs.

Below are the best 10 pieces of advice to tackle when interested in training a dog to become a therapy dog.

Therapy training is tough

Before starting this honorable mission it is important to understand training is tough. Dedication to learning on both the owner and the dog’s side is required.

Failing is part of learning and can seem discouraging at first. Frustrations with rules and paperwork may arise. For this reason, pursuing therapy dog training is not for everyone.

It is important to understand why someone is pursuing making their dog a therapy dog. If the reasons are sincere or heartfelt then the obstacles will be no problem!

Therapy dog training is in demand

Hundreds of thousands of individuals suffer from forms of mental, physical, or emotional disorders and illnesses. For this reason, therapy animals are facing a vast increase in demand. Many forms of therapy are beginning to incorporate therapy animals in their clinics, hospitals, and treatment centers.

Therapy dogs can be made to help individuals and groups. This makes therapy dogs all the more useful. For this reason, training a therapy dog to be at ease in focused individual or group settings is important.

Therapy animals and service animals are different

It is pretty common for individuals to accidentally confuse the terms service and therapy. Are service dogs different from therapy dogs? This is an innocent question even other dogs owners may ask.

Both service dogs and therapy dogs are special in the skill of assisting their owners.

However, the types of tasks completed and purpose are different. Service and therapy animals are not limited to only dogs but dogs are the most popular type of animal helper.

Service dogs specialize in assisting owners with a range of disabilities from physical to mental.

Disabilities make it difficult for people to complete everyday activities. A service dog can help make life easier and more fun. Therapy dogs are specifically trained to provide comfort when indicated.

Individuals typically display triggers or signs when a therapy dog is needed for comfort as a grounding tool to help make situations less scary.

Health matters

Ensuring the ultimate health of a dog before taking on the journey of becoming a therapy dog is vital. Why? Therapy dog certification can be demanding for the owner, trainer, and pet.

This goal takes time, energy, and emotions. It is best for short term and long term means to ensure a pet is healthy before asking more of them.

Becoming attached to a therapy animal is significant. It would be unfair and tragic for someone in need of a therapy pet to form a strong bond only to discover their therapy animal is ill.

To help everyone in the situation visiting a veterinarian before beginning therapy dog certification would be wise.

A simple and easy vet check-up never hurts. Also, a well-versed veterinarian may be able to provide helpful professional advice about the therapy dog journey too!

Seek a certified professional

An important step to take to succeed in making a dog a therapy dog is a certification. A certified therapy dog will be taken seriously and provide documents required by landlords or the workplace.

Only seek training and expertise on this matter from a certified local professional. Not all dog trainers, pet influencers, or animal science degree holders are certified with the specific education required.

Be careful of investing in online therapy dog certification programs as they may not be legitimate. In-person certification also provides a more personal experience.

A professional dog trainer will share goals a pet must accomplish to become certified.

Some key objectives include agreeable temperament, able to learn tricks, aware of human body language indicators, appropriate leash behavior, obedience testing, abilities to focus, lack of food aggression, and submissive testing.

Practice makes perfect

Never be discouraged if accomplished goals set out by certified dog trainers take time to accomplish. It is almost impossible to pass every task on the first try. The practice is key and offers bonding time with a dog.

No trick is impossible to learn with enough dedication, consistency, and positive reinforcement. Make sure to ask a trainer what their best positive reinforcement methods are to incorporate in practice. Some trainers may suggest digestive friendly training treats or encouraging tones.

Pass the assessment

Assessments are nerve-wracking for anyone. Honestly, no one likes to take a test for fun. However, now is the time to shine! A vital step for a dog to officially become a registered therapy dog usually involves some kind of assessment.

Depending on the facility or trainer the longevity and composition of the test will vary. If a dog does not pass the test on the first try make sure to ask for critical feedback. Constructive criticism and specific advice will help ensure success the second time around.

Updated paperwork

After certification makes sure to stay up to date on necessary paperwork or vet records as necessary.

Paperwork may be respectfully requested if a dog is interested in volunteering as a therapy dog for events, schools, therapy facilities, or other places.

Therapy dogs are even becoming popular in courtrooms to help aid victims who testify against abusers facing possible criminal charges. Such important circumstances and legal settings would want to ensure a therapy dog is up to date on documentation.

Uniform indicators

Luckily society is pretty well versed in dog clothing. Dog fashion has even become a very welcomed and enjoyable hobby! This entertaining hobby is not only limited to Halloween time. Dog clothing is fun and popular in general for every occasion.

There are many trusted companies who design and create therapy dog jackets, shirts, leashes, and collar accessories. The industry of dog clothing for therapy animals focuses on communicating with the public how to appropriately interact.

Therapy dog clothing acts as an extra way to communicate with others that the dog is special. The right clothing also helps a therapy dog look more professional than the average pet.

Therapy dog stickers for the home and car are also available to easily purchase online or at most pet stores.

Double-check laws about therapy dogs

The final tip to ensure the ultimate success of the therapy dog journey includes double-checking laws.

The legal system periodically changes and can surprise individuals. Sometimes surprises are nasty. To best lookout for a well-meaning therapy dog make sure communication and documentation are always professional.

The laws of a county, state, and even local businesses may differ or contradict. It is better to be safe than sorry and periodically check out on laws regarding therapy dogs.

Thank you for being dedicated to pursuing such an honorable and helpful deed. Best of luck!

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