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Can Your Dog Become a Therapy Pet?

74% of pet owners stated that they experienced mental health improvements from animal ownership. Pet therapy has been recognized as a viable treatment for various illnesses and diseases.

It offers several benefits such as enhanced patient satisfaction, increased energy levels, and improved moods and self-esteem.

The therapy also provides companionship, relieves pressure, reduces loneliness, and lowers anxiety.

If you have a dog, your pet can help you, members of your family and others in your community overcome medical and psychological problems.

Here’s how your furry friend can qualify as a therapy dog.

Can Your Dog Become a Therapy Pet?

Pet Therapy as a Treatment

Animal therapy is a growing field of complementary treatment that can help patients deal with emotional or health problems.

For example, it is one of the many alternative therapies for CP. 

A child who has cerebral palsy (CP) can benefit from dog therapy.

Dogs help kids perform basic tasks such as retrieving items, switching on lights, or pulling an assistive device.

Those who have hearing difficulties can benefit from pooches that are trained to react to certain sounds.

Beagle dog with an elderly man

Pets can also provide comfort and companionship, reduce boredom and loneliness, increase movement and social activity, and improve disposition and overall well-being. 

Positive interactions with a canine can reduce stress and uplift the mental and emotional state of a person.

Depending on the type of assistance that an individual needs, the process of animal therapy involves training the animal and close collaboration with the physician to ensure that the goals of the therapy are met.

Note that animal therapy is in no way a substitute for medication or physical rehabilitation.

White dog on leash in training routine

Is Your Dog Ready?

There are several factors to consider when evaluating your dog as a potential therapy animal.

One is that your furry pal must reach adulthood.

Many organizations will not allow puppies under one year to work as a therapy animal.

Furthermore, your mutt must pass the American Kennel Association (AKC) Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test for obedience.

To illustrate, a dog’s behavior in public is evaluated and a hound that is not able to interact with kids in a friendly way or ‘leave it’ on cue will not pass their certification.

White dog licking a person's palm

Apart from basic obedience, your dogs must also have a good social temperament.

They must also want the job as a therapy dog because it is not fair to force the work on your furry friend if they are not interested in doing it.

Overall, it is imperative that you watch your pooch closely to determine its true character.

Check if it really enjoys interacting with new people or is well-behaved in public. In short, a therapy dog should be calm, friendly, and obedient.

They must also be healthy, well-groomed, and adaptable to new noises, scents, places, and equipment.

Not all canines are suitable for therapy work in the same way that not every owner can become a handler.

For your dogs to succeed, it is important that they possess a naturally good temperament, are obedient, calm, adaptable, and friendly.

Debbie P

Thursday 6th of January 2022

Thanks for this very good article!

Lauryn R

Thursday 6th of January 2022

Therapy pets are the best, it is incredible how much they truly help. I do not have one, but I am so glad that they are out there for people.

Molli Taylor

Thursday 6th of January 2022

We just got a new dog and we were wondering how to make him a therapy pet for my daughter with autism and anxiety!

Mia Rose

Wednesday 5th of January 2022

A school I worked in some years ago had a therapy dog which was a wonderful experience for both children and staff.

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