Is There a Therapy Dog In Your Living Room?

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Therapy dogs and training

Most people who get a chance to see a therapy dog in action will be impressed. Watching the way that these dogs interact with diverse people and environments, obey commands, and sit calmly in stressful situations is enough to leave anyone awed.

While a therapy dog's skill and control may be enough to leave you wonderstruck, there is no magical or mystical force that turns an ordinary animal into a therapy dog. The fact is, thousands of pet dogs across the country have the potential to become therapy animals - maybe even yours.

Now before you rush out the door to find your dog a vest, there are a few things you need to consider. Certifying your dog as a therapy animal is a big commitment and responsibility, and it takes a lot of work. This is assuming that your dog is even a good candidate. If participating in a therapy dog program is something that you think you would like to do, take the time to think over some of these questions:

Is Your Dog Ready To Be a Therapy Dog?

The first thing you will have to find out is whether or not your dog has what it takes to be a therapy animal. It takes a certain kind of personality for a dog to do well as a therapy animal. A therapy dog has to be calm, versatile, and intelligent. Before considering your own dog as a candidate, ask yourself:

  • Is your dog calm, easy-going, and non-aggressive, even in stressful situations?
  • Is your dog good with people of all ages?
  • Is your dog gentle around children and other pets?
  • Is your dog comfortable in new environments?
  • Is your dog intelligent, obedient, and easy to train?

If you answered 'yes' to all these questions, you may have a potential service dog on your hands. However, your dog's ability to do his job is only one determining factor.

How Much Time and Effort Are You Prepared To Devote?

Getting your dog certified as a therapy animal is no easy task. Both you and your dog must pass a series of difficult tests to determine whether or not you both are ready. You will have to spend a good deal of time training your dog, and you will have to be consistent. Once you do get your dog certified, you will have to devote a good amount of time and energy to volunteer work. You will also have to continually make sure that your dog keeps up with training and exercise, and that your dog is kept clean and healthy with regular veterinarian and grooming appointments.

Are You Ready To Have a Therapy Dog?

The last important question is whether or not you will be able to handle everything that comes along with having a therapy dog. You and your dog will be a team wherever you go, so you will have to make sure that you are able to do therapy work as well. Will you be comfortable visiting hospitals and nursing homes with your dog? Will you be able to interact with all kinds of people, including the very elderly, the terminally ill, and people with disabilities? Working with a therapy animal can be a challenging thing at times, and you will have to make sure that you are prepared for it before you begin.

Having a therapy animal is incredibly rewarding, but it is also a serious responsibility. You will have to devote time, effort, patience, and care to your dog and to your work. This type of volunteer work is not for everyone; however, if you think that you and your dog would make the perfect team, go ahead and check out therapy animal certification in your area. You may discover a fulfilling calling, and you may also discover that the bundle of fur in your living had more healing and helping potential than you ever imagined.

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