Therapy dogs are very healthy to have around. These animals interact with individuals to offer them feelings of rehabilitation through real contact.
Playing with cats or dogs can help to alleviate levels of dopamine and serotonin, which helps a person to become calm and relaxed.
What really is a therapy dog?
There are two broad categories of therapy services offered by animals: animal-assisted activities therapy and animal-assisted therapy.
Because animals a nonjudgemental set of creatures, they can help people who get stressed out or scared in an unusual environment like nursing facilities, hospitals, rehab centres, and schools.
A regular wagging dog that stays around and plays in your home, can help return normalcy to individuals of all ages and genders who have to endure abnormal situations.
Animal-assisted therapy makes use of companion animals as a part of the therapy of a patient. Interactions between the patients and the dogs are part of the treatment plan specially designed by the healthcare professional to help improve a patient’s emotional or physical function.
Take for example, tossing a ball or even brushing your dog’s quotes encourages repetitive eye and hand coordination exercises.
Animal-assisted activities therapy deals with the introduction of pets to withdrawn individuals so as to encourage communication. A lot of people often relax when they are in the presence of friendly animals. there is still no formal treatment plan or any trained professional needed.
Neither of these animals that are taken to special facilities to interact with patients has been considered service animals by federal law. The only set of animals or rather dogs that are considered service animals are those ones that are specially trained to actively assist people with disabilities such as blindness.
What is the temperament of a therapy dog?
For a dog to earn the title of a good therapy animal, it must be friendly to all kinds of individuals and also have the ability to stay calm and quiet in a variety of environment.
The dog must not have a problem being touched by people especially children and strangers as well as can nicely take treats.
Older dogs are usually considered the best option when it comes to therapy animals because they have had basic training, are less excitable, and can readily obey simple instructions.
However, it is also possible for you to begin training for your puppy at an early stage to help prepare it for a future as a therapy animal. Dogs of different sizes, pure breeds or even mutts can make excellent therapy animals.
While smaller kind of dogs is wonderful for snuggling on a hospital bed or just carrying on a patient’s laps, dogs of larger sizes do a great job of encouraging people to throw sticks or balls at them and even have the height to stand by a patient’s wheelchair or bed and provide appropriate interaction.
Preparing your dog as a therapy animal
You will want to ensure that you train your dog to work wearing a leash or a collar comfortably. Whenever going with your pets for therapy sessions, carry along some traits and a grooming brush; it will work wonderfully as an icebreaker.
Dogs will go close to strangers and play with them if they know that they would get treats after such an activity. As long as you train your dog correctly and it can socialise it will make your beautiful therapy dog in a matter of time.
Do not appear shocked if you find out that the people your dog gets to meet during therapy sessions wants to brush its body or even feed it treats after it obeys basic commands or performs tricks. Some patients might also want to walk your dog around the facility or hospital they are in.
How to register therapy dogs?
You really do not have to register you and your puppy. However, it is advisable that you undergo formal training. you can get offers on home study courses and even workshops from the delta society.
You can also get a listing of trained animal handlers from the Delta society. The beautiful part is that even if your puppy has some disabilities it is always very welcome to join. Puppies with disability may even have the added advantage of becoming an inspiration to people with similar challenges.
Your puppy must always be deemed healthy by a vet and also kept up to date on vaccinations. Expect that your animal will be tested on basic obedience and also trained to deal with conditions that you might encounter during your visit.
You can also get your dog tested and registered as a therapy dog with the Therapy Dogs International (TDI). The therapy dogs international is a volunteer group. However, your puppy has to be as mature as a year old and also pass the American Kennel Club’s canine good citizen test for it to get registered.
A great place to begin is with the American Kennel Club’s S.T.A.R puppy program. Once that is done, you and your dog must also be accessed by the TDI evaluator for suitability and temperament.
Steps in therapy dog training
There are ten separate tests that are organised within the canine good citizen program according to the AKC website. Some of the tests are self-explanatory.
1. Accepting a friendly stranger test: this is one of the tests that it’s self-explanatory it’s basically just try to find out whether your dog will allow a stranger approach them even when you are around.
2. Sit politely for pitting test: this test just looks to see if your dog would sit still and allow itself get petted by a stranger.
3. Grooming and appearance: distance will check to see if your dog would allow someone aside you to check its ears and its feet like when it is visiting a vet.
4. Out for a walk test: your dog should be able to walk wearing a loose leash with its owner.
5. Test for walking through a crowd: this test is organised to check whether your dog can handle walking through a crowd with you without displaying any negative reaction towards anybody.
6. the sit down on command and stay in place test
7. the test for responding when called
8. Test for reactions to other dogs: this test will bring two owners together with their dogs and watch how the dogs behave while the owners engage in a conversation.
9. A dog’s reaction to distraction: this test is to check if a dog would easily get distracted or would remain focused on a task regardless of the distractions around it.
10. Supervised separation test: this is usually the last test that your dog will have to go through and it is to see if the animal can handle being away from its owner even if it’s for a short period.
What are the problems associated with training therapy dogs?
Some canines are just not suited for the role of a therapy animal. Some of them may not possess the right temperament that a therapy dog needs while a couple of others might have an unknown health condition that would make them less suitable for the job.
These factors are usually discovered while the dog is in training. If you have discovered that your dog is skittish whenever it is around strangers, it will be best that you begin to socialize the animal before you go further to register it for training. Nevertheless even the most affectionate and responsive dog may never develop an interest for being a therapy animal.
A lack of interest in such activities does not mean there is anything wrong with your dog it simply means that it’s loves you so much and would rather just be with you than be shared with other people.
We hope that you find the tips we have left here very helpful. If you have further opinions or suggestions that you would like to share with us, please use the comment section below.