Dog Behavior & Training Pet Daily News

Beginners guide to dog therapy

Dog therapy is all about skilled dogs that care unconditionally, nurture and love the world around them, especially human beings. These dogs work in the community, hospitals, old people’s homes, nursing homes, performing, disaster regions and school classrooms, etc. The good news is venues are increasing at an alarming rate which means there’s more of a demand for dog therapy. Some areas of work could include education, especially where young people are inadequate in handling dogs.

Dogs that would be good as therapists should be calm, submissive, value human life, knows and understands commands, is friendly, affectionate, comforts, is quiet, loves children and the elderly.

Sadly, some dogs are just not cut out to do dog therapy work and there are many reasons why. For example, some dogs can be disrespectful, too excitable, bark excessively, hyperactive or are sick etc.

Sharing the love with dog therapy

It takes an distinctive kind of dog and human being to succeed in this type of work. If you’re naturally akin to loving people and own a caring dog that enjoys the human fuss and loves to give, then this type of work could be for you both. Dogs are a gift to humanity, and we should cherish their skills and nurturing temperament. Unless your dog is on the dangerous dogs lists, you will not need to worry about its breed type.

At present, in most countries, you and your dog do not necessarily need to be qualified or registered. However, it is advisable because many organizations such as homes and schools require rigorous proof that your dog is capable of caring.

These businesses and institutes, etc. would prefer the equivalent training standards of the Kennel Club or something similar. However, some companies and countries prefer to use their own evaluating system so this would be worth checking out.

Dog therapy evaluations may include testing dogs with loud noises, with children running around, children’s sudden screams or elderly noises such as wheel chairs and clattering walking sticks.

Before commencing into do therapy, your dog should be thoroughly checked over by a veterinarian. This is to ensure your dog is not sick plus it’s always nice that your vet approves your dog for therapy work.

Recognizing when you need help

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Accountability is important, in the UK, you can obtain more information from Pets As Therapy, and in the U.S. you could start with the Delta Society. In some countries the St John’s Ambulance also provides help for dog therapy. There are other organizations such as the Therapy Dog International and the S.T.A.R. Program.

It would be good practice to contact these groups as they will test and calculate your dog’s ability. Additionally, it’s always great to be accountable to persons in authority, especially highly recommended organizations.

These groups are here to assist you and your dog, plus point you in the right direction. It is more than likely they’ll suggest your dog needs some therapy training, and this can cost approximately $300 for an eight week course.

Dogs involved in therapy work will need to wear a vest, this helps people recognise a therapist dog. Bear in mind therapy dogs are not service dogs, they are totally different. For more information check out ‘Service or therapy dog vest working qualifications‘.

All dogs are usually welcome to therapy training, including disabled and older dogs so long as their temperaments meet the above requirements. Once your dog has been trained and assessed, your dog will be qualified to provide affection and reassurance to people in all types of venues.

Dog therapy encourages a lot of joy to many individuals; their presence brings happiness, a smile of hope, and they generally make a person feel extremely loved. Scientifically speaking, it is believed that well trained dogs encourage bonding, happiness, reduces loneliness, less anxious and lower people’s cortisol levels. It’s also been proven that some patients found they could reduce their medication after 1 to 2 thirty-minute sessions.

It is worthwhile remembering that therapy dogs are not service or assistance dogs, these offer a totally different kind of service. Service dogs are lawfully protected and are considered as human protectors such as working with the police. Assistance dogs are also lawfully protected and are considered as guides for the blind, etc.

To get to grips with dog therapy and how it can enhance healing and self-awareness check out Kris Butler book on ‘Therapy Dogs Today: Their Gifts, Our Obligation‘. She covers a lot of valuable information that is targeted towards professional and non-professional people. I can’t thank this lady enough for her concise skills, fresh insights and extra tips.

About the author

Jennifer Pitts

I love pets and I love animals. I have 2 dogs and 3 cats and it's not enough for me.

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