Would My Dog Be a Good Therapy Dog? Evaluating a Dog's Temperament for Therapy Visits
Dec 23, 2008 Joy Butler
Therapy dogs have a special personality and talent for visiting nursing homes and hospitals to lift spirits and promote healing.
Unconditional love and affection provided by therapy dogs brings comfort to people in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and any stressful situation. The medical world has, for years, seen the therapeutic effect of pets on lowering blood pressure, relieving stress, and lifting spirits. It also encourages children who have emotional disorders or speech problems. A therapy dog’s job is very important. Many therapy dogs are pets belonging to someone who decided to share their wonderful dog with others. Although most owners could never be convinced that their dog is not the most wonderful in the world, not all dogs are suitable for therapy work. When evaluating a dog for therapy work, temperament and personality are most important. A good therapy dog can be any size or breed but should have the following qualities. Must love people – It’s the dog’s wagging tail and happy face that people respond to. Must be good with children – Children are everywhere and even if the dog will not be working with them, it’s important that he behave appropriately when he comes in contact with a child.
Must be good around other animals – It’s important that your dog know how to get along when he encounters pets or works with other therapy animals. Must welcome being petted – Therapy dogs often encounter awkward pets from children or disabled people and must not shy away from unfamiliar hands. Must be reliably housetrained – Accidents are not appropriate while a therapy dog is working. Must be obedient – Some dogs accept training easier than others but it’s important that a therapy dog obey basic commands of come, sit, down, stay, and heel. Must obey reliably with distractions - The therapy dog must remain calm, confident, and obedient in the midst of wheelchairs, walkers, canes, and unfamiliar noises and smells of hospitals, nursing homes and disaster areas. Must be healthy – Therapy dogs should be up to date on shots and free from parasites and infectious diseases; however, handicapped dogs are often a great inspiration to others with similar handicaps. Must be well groomed - Before each visit, a good therapy dog will be clean, clipped and brushed for minimal shedding. Dogs can be trained but a good therapy dog just naturally loves people and knows how to bring out the best in them. For those who feel their dog is a good candidate for therapy work, a good place to start is the Canine Good Citizen certification or contact a therapy dog organization such as the Delta Society or Therapy Dogs International which operate in all 50 states.
Read more at Suite101: Would My Dog Be a Good Therapy Dog?: Evaluating a Dog's Temperament for Therapy Visits http://dog-training.suite101.com/article.cfm/would_my_dog_be_a_good_therapy_dog#ixzz0mv8Br69M