What to Know About Your Therapy Dog?

A common misconception is that therapy dogs and service dogs are the same.

They’re not.

A service dog refers specifically to any dog trained to help people with disabilities, such as visual impairment.

Therapy dogs, on the other hand (paw), help people in a variety of settings, from schools to dentists’ offices to nursing homes. They can also comfort people after they’ve dealt with distressing situations. The following are more details about therapy dogs.

A Therapy Dog Might Not Be Allowed Everywhere

Service dogs are supported under the American with Disabilities Act.1

 As a result, service dogs are allowed on airplanes, in restaurants and in other places that don’t typically accept pets. Therapy dogs may not be welcome in all of these environments. Be sure to check before bringing your dog with you.

What Kind of Training Does My Therapy Dog Need?

The best therapy dogs have a naturally calm and loving temperament. They’re friendly, confident and at ease. Any breed of dog can be trained to assist with therapy and you don’t need a special certification or any documentation for therapy dogs in most environments.

You can train your dog at home. Or, if you prefer, your canine can go through formal training.

To work in therapeutic settings, dogs need to be at least one years old.²  In these situations, dogs have to pass a test that evaluates their manners and demeanor. In addition, the therapy dog’s handler’s skills will be assessed. Most settings require a trial before committing to a long-term arrangement.

How Can I Train My Dog to be A Therapy Dog?

At a minimum, your dog should be able to:

-Heel
-Walk on a loose leash
-Come when called
-Sit
-Lie down
-Leave distracting objects alone
-Walk past another dog with an incident
-Gently take a treat
-Stay calm in loud or startling environments

Additionally, you, as your dog’s handler, need to know how to communicate, handle a leash properly, manage stressful situations and maintain your dog’s hygiene.

This will require consistent training, plenty of praise and – of course – lots of love.

While your dog must be well-mannered and controllable, you still want its personality to shine. After all, that’s what makes dogs amazing companions.

Finally, if you want to bring your dog into therapeutic settings, make sure that it’s up to date on medications and vaccinations. With SPOT Pet Insurance, you can support your pet’s medical needs while keeping your budget under control.

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Sources

1 https://adata.org/publication/service-animals-booklet

²http://2ndcircuit.leoncountyfl.gov/pet/documentation/2nd_Cir_Fl_Animal_Therapy_Recommendations_Dep_Ct.pdf