Pet therapy dogs create lots of joy to patients undergoing rough times in hospitals, nursing homes, and rehab centers. Involving your dog in pet therapy is a great way to give back to your community. However, most people never realize that their dogs qualify to become part of a therapy team.
A perfect dog for pet therapy should love people, be friendly, and well-trained. The pet must also adapt well to new environments while paying attention to the trainer. Any breed of dog can participate in the therapeutic role as long as it qualifies. Therefore it is crucial to understand the qualifications involved in the process.
Eventually, if you determine your dog is suitable for therapy work, you still have to ensure it also undergoes a certification program after training.
The following are simple tips to know if your dog qualifies for pet therapy.
Consider the Temperament of Your Dog
The main prerequisite for pet therapy dogs is that they must be comfortable around all people, extremely calm, and emotionally secure. Qualities that disqualify dogs from pet therapy include nervousness, shyness, and aggressiveness. Any other undesirable attributes that make the pet appear unfriendly and intimidating towards people will also disqualify it. An excellent therapy dog should be comfortable and stay calm when:
- Approached or surrounded by children or adults
- Roughly touched or stroked by people
- Located in a noisy environment
- Around medical equipment, such as beeping machines, wheelchairs, among others
Take Note of Your Dog’s Body Language
Even if your dog appears calm in different environments, stress may be a hindering issue for him. Begin paying attention to your pet’s body language to establish if the dog is comfortable around people and tolerates their presence. Body signs that indicate your dog may be uncomfortable include:
- A stiff posture
- Isolated or unreceptive around people and staying by your side
- Creasing his brow
- Looking down or away from people
- Barking or exposing his teeth
Socialize Your Dog to Test For Pet Therapy Qualifications
Your dog should interact easily with new people without becoming angry or violent around other pets. An aggressive dog automatically disqualifies it for pet therapy.
The best way of socializing with your dog is by exposing it to the new environment and experiences with people regularly. For instance, consider taking your dog to social events such as nature parks, party celebrations, friends’ homes, among others. This action will ensure the pet is comfortable around people while engaging it for pet therapy qualifications.
Problems and Proofing Behavior for Pet Therapy
At times while you train your dog to check whether it qualifies for pet therapy, you will realize it doesn’t have the right temperament or attention. For instance, your dog may lack the desire to spend time with strangers or become uncomfortable in specific environments.
For others, a formerly unnoticed health condition, such as hearing or vision issues, might be the purpose of stopping the training. However, you still don’t have to lose hope.
Alternatively, you may consider taking your dog to professional pet therapy organizations for an ultimate test of the dog’s behavior in practical settings. Eventually, you will realize that taking time to let your dog go through the training process will produce excellent qualifications for dog’s pet therapy.