5 Tips for Properly Training Therapy Dogs
Dogs trained as service dogs help the disabled. Therapy dogs help improve moods and reduce stress. Therapy dogs are taken by their owner to patients and residents in hospitals, nursing homes and mental centers. Therapy dogs offer therapeutic benefits for people who otherwise are not able to be in contact with a pet. Dogs are trained for this important task. Basic obedience training is the first step. Therapy dogs must learn more and pass the AKC Canine Good Citizen® Certificate Test (CGC) and Therapy Dog International requirements, so those interested in training therapy dogs need to take these requirements into consideration. Then, the dog can be designated a therapy dog.
Choosing a Dog The kind of dog is not as critical as its temperament. Small dogs are great for sitting on laps. Hyperactive or shy dogs won’t be chosen while those with a calm and friendly manner will. The dog must look good and be healthy. Routine grooming and veterinarian visits prepare the dog for grooming and inspection by the CGC examiner.
Basic Training Come, stay, sit and down are words the dog must obey. The dog must be taught it’s all right when a stranger approaches the owner. Aggressive, protective behavior is not acceptable if a stranger extends a handshake or pats the owners back. When people approach, jumping, licking, sniffing, growling, or barking will disqualify a dog.
The dog must be housebroken. The dog must walk close by on a loose leash. The dog must not pull or strain on the leash or attempt to go to someone else. During the CGC testing, the dog must stay in position. The owner must be in control at all times in order to pass the CGC test.
Distractions A therapy dog must not show great interest in other dogs. Going to a dog park is a great place for training. Stop to speak with another dog owner. A therapy dog must show only casual interest in another dog.
A therapy dog must be entirely comfortable with a child. A child may pull on the dogs ear or touch the dog other ways. A negative response from a therapy dog is not acceptable.
Take the dog to public places that have unfamiliar noises and are crowded. The dog needs to get accustomed to these settings. Parades, flea markets and fairs are good training grounds.
A therapy dog provides comfort to people in ways other people cannot. Great thanks go out to these dogs and their owners who volunteer for this work.
Liz is an blogger, freelance writer and recent college graduate. She currently performs market research for an online marketing firm when she is not contributing her own thoughts and observations to the online community.