Dogs are the best example of unconditional love and devoted companionship. They bring joy and constant entertainment to people around the world every day. Most of the pet owners enjoy spending time with their dogs. Pets affect people’s lives tremendously, and the love shared among them also impacts social behavior. Therapeutic dogs provide emotional support to patients as they are preferred more than human companionship. The relationship between dogs and humans is less complex and more stable. Read to know more about why are therapy dogs used to treat disabled patients? Different reasons and ways to train or handle them.
What is a Therapy Dog?
Almost everybody knows the term service dog. Service dogs are also called assistance dogs trained specifically to help people with a disability or needs. Although these dogs are trained to provide emotional support for patients, they must be under control all time. Service dogs can be of different sizes and shapes or breeds. They are trained to perform tasks for persons suffering from a physical, sensory or mental disability.
The bond of love shared between humans and dogs is true. These service dogs are available in foundations or with private trainers. Service dogs trained in a flexible approach where many disabilities can be cured with life-changing effects. Service dogs remain forever loyal to people and always help in needy times. The fierce loyalty and mental support which they provide are impressive. These dogs are called lifelines to handlers who offer freedom and boost overall wellbeing.
Duties Of Therapy Dogs
Dogs which are trained to become therapy dogs should be intelligent. They must be excellent at reading people’s minds. Therapy dogs must remain calm when they are advised to play. Therapy dogs should adapt themselves to various environments or meet new people. Intelligent dogs possess traits to pick up things happening around them quickly.
Therapy dogs expected to be well trained to handle patients in completing specific tasks or leading in different situations. They should remain under the control of the institutional environment where they work. Patients should be able to command a dog in many places. Highly trainable dogs become the best therapy dogs.
One of the essential requirements of being a therapy dog is to remain focused on specific tasks. Environments where therapy dogs work are turbulent or unpredictable most time. It may remain full of distractions, noises or crowds. Patients with social anxiety need a dog that remains focused on individual tasks.
All About Therapy Dog Requirements
Therapy dogs trained to meet these criteria, but a screening process is needed to ensure their capability. Therapeutic dogs should have proper intelligence to perform qualified tasks. They focused to help patients in distress and anxiety in retirement homes, nursing homes, hospices, schools and many more places. You can check out some of the basic therapy dog requirements you need to know.
Therapy dogs must maintain a good temper, that is quickly becoming angry or getting stressed does not make them qualify. These pets must feel good being touched and handle patients with care. Reacting aggressively will lead to mishandling. Some of these behaviours can be trained, but dogs require inherent calm to an extent.
Shedding of animals is common, but therapy dogs should not shed often. It can be a threat to people with allergies. In addition, excessive shedding can create a mess in hospitals or clinics for cleaning staff. These dogs appointed to help patients, not to cause a problem.
Socialization is essential for therapy dogs because they need to cheer people from disabling conditions. Humans need love and loyalty from dogs for mental support. The therapist need to handle Over-energetic dogs properly because over-enthusiasm can harm elderly patients. These dogs can become harmful and rough.
One essential requirement of therapy dogs is to adapt themselves to various environments. Sometimes therapy canines must provide support in high extensive surroundings and others in small living spaces. Those pets who are not adaptable to different environments become easily aggressive. Excess anger can cause harm to patients.
How to Certify a Therapy Dog?
A certification is must to taking responsibility for therapy dogs. This therapy dog certification process is relatively easy, but it needs time and effort. Check out the simple steps for how to make your dog a therapy dog?
#Step 1: Adopt a Therapy Dog
The first step in the certification process is choosing a dog you want to adopt. Different breeds are available for puppies therapy to do research according to features and characteristics. Professional dog trainers can advice and suggestions regarding processes, and veterinary professionals can also guide you in adapting therapy dogs. Behaviour and temperament are areas that you must consider at first. For example, a golden retriever may find it uncomfortable to adapt to various environments.
Other breeds like Rottweiler or Pitbull are not associated with therapeutic patients yet cheer up human beings. Always remember to adopt dogs rather than buying from a breeder, as shelter dogs are more friendly and loving than other ones. Younger and older dogs are similar to love and obedience. They should be able to play, spend time with humans and observe disabilities. It is easier to identify a canine as a therapy dog because patients will also get entertained if they can entertain trainers.
#Step 2: Support Dog Training
Have any idea about how to train a therapy dog? After choosing a breed and shelter, the next step is to train those dogs. Therapy dog training process should begin as soon as possible after adopting them. There are various methods of teaching a therapeutic dog, but it is better to take a professionals advice. It includes, potty training, leash training, how to support the owner in difficulties and all. Dog owners sometimes prefer to train dogs by themselves, but getting advice from people who train dogs for a living can save time and ease the process of training.
Overall, it is important to consider that dogs imbibe positive traits rather than negative ones. For the registration process, the behaviour of dogs is noticed so that it is suited for therapy work. For example, if dogs which are aggressive and barking excessively do not qualify for training. This support dog training process also does not allow those pets who are shy and do not like approaching people. Certain traits essential for therapy dogs are friendly, obedient, quiet, unaggressive, outgoing, gentle, relaxed, and not easily startled.
#Step3: Therapy Dog Registration
Most dog therapy certification organizations need one-year-old or above dogs for registration. These dogs must have completed all vaccines and shots. Appropriate documents are essential, including all medical history and age of dogs from veterinarians. When dogs become ready as therapy animals, they need to registered from recognised organizations and pass a particular test. All these tests need certification. If your dog does not follow commands or is not properly manageable, dogs will not be certified. Examination of how to become a therapy dog focuses on traits such as-
- They are maintaining friendly behavior towards strangers and accepting them. Approach towards a stranger and handlers should be natural in everyday situations.
- Sitting politely while petting and allowing a stranger to pet them.
- A dog should allow people to check its ears and teeth as they do to veterinarians.
- Dogs should follow the evaluator’s instructions and walk-in loose leads.
- They should be able to walk among small crowds between 2- 3 people.
- Dogs should be able to follow handlers’ commands and demonstrate those abilities.
- It is important to react politely towards other dogs and exchange pleasantries.
- An evaluator will try to distract dogs by dropping a chair, or a thing dogs should react properly.
- Dogs should be trained so that they can be left with trusted people.
If dogs can properly pass all CGC tests, there remains a good chance of passing tests. However, after passing tests of registration and certification, it is suggested to proceed with caution. Some dogs well prepared to pass tests, and some may still unprepared to deal with patients in various environments. It is easier to test the water with friends or family members before taking them to a healthcare facility.
All About Therapy Dog Breeds
These dogs are suitable among other dogs for all types of work and giving emotional support to patients. Labradors are intelligent, adaptable to different situations and easier to train. Ability to remain focused on tasks and loving people to please them are certain characteristics of Labrador dogs. Labrador Retriever identified as calm and affectionate to spend time with the vulnerable.
These dogs are also perfectly suitable for their intelligence, gentle nature, friendly behaviour and problem approach. They identified as most social and people-friendly among all other breeds. These dogs easily make friends with children despite their large size.
Poodles do not shed, which makes them great therapy dogs. Other breeds are trained to be therapeutic dogs, but poodles are bred to be companions. They love being around people and are good at reading people. In addition, these dogs identified as smart, which makes them adaptable. Dogs come in a variety of sizes and shapes to fit every situation.
These dogs often identified as balls of fluff because of being cozy. They can easily sit on patients’ laps. Pomeranians are curious and have loads of personalities that make people fall in love with them. Patients can become distracted with their curiosity and spend hours understanding them. Pomeranians are intelligent and obedient.
These breeds can identified as highly intelligent and intuitive. They can easily pick up human emotions and change moods around them. In addition, bulldogs can adapt to different situations as these are well behaved.
For a long time, people have known that dogs can give mental support to owners. They support human beings to live without any stress and develop emotional health. Medical researchers have experimented with dogs’ emotions and focused on helping disabled patients. Dogs have evolved for therapy work taking into consideration all these traits. These dogs possess a lot more qualities than merely being a pet. By this method, differently disabled persons gradually become healthy from their trauma every day.