Does Your Canine Have What It Takes To Be A Therapy Dog?
There are a lot of people who either don’t have the ability to own a dog any longer and want to give them away, or people who are having issues trying to train their dogs to behave, who believe that these dogs could be trained to be great therapy dogs and help other people.
You’ve probably heard someone say: Our dog would be a perfect fit as a therapy dog. He just needs some obedience training and he’d be ideal. Most of these people definitely have the wrong idea about therapy dogs. The fact of the matter is that the dogs that are fit to add people who need assisted living are very few and far between.
That doesn’t mean that there is no chance. There are over 30,000 teams in America that are made up of therapy dogs and handlers who are certified to help others and do so on a daily basis.
However, to be a good dog-and-handler team, you need to be able to do a lot more than make people smile. Any dog can do that. It’s not like you are a clown that is going to entertain sick children in the hospital. True therapy dogs go through very sophisticated training in order to be able to perform very sophisticated and intricate tasks. These dogs help people with rehabilitation when healing from surgeries or accidents. There are even therapy dogs that are used to make autistic children more open to social interaction and communication.
Here’s something to think about. Sure, everyone loves your dog and your dog is nice with everyone they meet. But that doesn’t mean that your dog is going to make a great therapy dog. Because you are forgetting about the other side of the equation – which is, what if your dog is simply not going to like doing that kind of work?
There’s a good chance that your dog could be downright miserable doing that kind of work. Also, did you think about any of the other health problems that dogs might encounter? What about the possibility of infection when visiting healthcare facilities all of the time.
So what does it take?
The fact is that there really are only a handful of dogs that have what it takes to become therapy dogs. That’s because it’s really had work. It’s a job that is far too stressful and tiring for your average dog.
There are also personality issues. Some breeds simply can’t be therapy dogs. And in most cases, the best therapy dogs are older ones. If you are thinking of turning a young, high-energy dog into a therapy dog, it’s probably not going to happen. No matter how much your dog loves people and people love him, if he’s jumping on senior citizens and making them fall over when he greats them, then he hardly fits the bill.
However, loving people is the single most important criteria for therapy dogs. If your dog loves people, which means that he absolutely explodes with joy when you come home. And when guests come over, your dog should accept them, but not be too thrilled about them. If you’ve ever seen a therapy dog work, then you know that while they love seeing their owner, they are pretty indifferent towards just about everyone else – other dogs included.
The need for calmness
We’ve talked about the fact that older dogs tend to make better therapy dogs. And that’s because they are calm. It’s not just about what you can keep a dog and how you can train them – it’s really more about the personality.
A therapy dog needs to have a very calm personality. When they great people, especially sickly and frail people, they need to know how to be gentle. They can’t thrash their tails around and jump on people. They need to be in control of themselves.
And we are not talking about just physically being calm – any old dog is physically calm. A great therapy dog also needs to be emotionally calm. That means that even if a child grabs their tail or if a loud noise scares them, they need to be unfazed by these types of things in order to be the rock of comfort and security that they must be for the people who need them.
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