Qualities That Make A Good Therapy Dog
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- A therapy dog should have a gentle, calm nature. Do not confuse this with
slowness or inactivity. Small dogs often move quickly, wag their tails with
great gusto and yet they have a very gentle touch and stand or sit quietly to
be petted or hugged.
- A therapy dog is outgoing and shows a willingness and eagerness to meet
new people. The dog should communicate an interest in the person being
visited. Any sign of aggression would disqualify a dog as a registered therapy
3. GOOD CANINE MANNERS:
- A therapy dog is expected to walk nicely, on a loose leash, at the
handler’s side. A dog that is pulling at the end of the leash can be a safety
hazard as someone can trip over the leash. Although formal obedience training
is not required, it is very useful and is extremely good for socialization of
the dog with other people and other dogs. The dog should know basic commands
such as sit, stay and down. A dog should not jump up on people and it should
not bark on a therapy visit.
4. GETS ALONG WITH OTHER ANIMALS:
- Often two or three dog/handler teams get together to do a therapy visit.
Therefore the dog must be able to get along with other dogs. Even if a team
works independently (or alone), a facility may have a resident dog, cat,
rabbit or bird.
5. BE TOUCHED ALL OVER:
- The therapy dog can be petted on any part of its body and in any manner.
The dog must allow its ears, tail, feet and any other part of its body to be
touched. Some residents have motor problems and cannot control their muscles
so petting can be jerky. The dog must tolerate this.
6. AT LEAST 1-YEAR-OLD:
- A therapy dog is working when it is on a visit. It must have the stamina
to do a half-hour to an hour visit. The dog will usually sleep in the car on
the way home from a visit because it worked hard. People think that it is
great fun for the dog to be petted and “fussed over” and it is, but it can be
stressful at the same time because the dog is experiencing strange equipment
and smells, strange people, strange hands reaching for it, and the dog must
process all these stimuli. This is particularly true for a new therapy dog.
And last, but certainly not least, the dog must be housebroken.
7. CLEAN AND HEALTHY:
- A therapy dog must have an annual check-up with a vet, for vaccinations of
rabies, distemper and parvo, and a negative fecal examination. The dog should
be bathed and brushed before going on a therapy visit.
Frequently Asked Questions
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