How To Train A Therapy Dog

By Ann Hills / a couple of years ago

No one can deny that dogs are amazing. They are one of the best animals you can ever get for yourself as pets. Why? Well, that's because they are lovable, friendly, faithful, smart and all in all the best companion for a person to have. Also, they're much easier to play with and hardly bear any grudge.

Looking at how lovable they are, it's no wonder why they're the best choice when it comes to taking care of those who need a bit of love and companionship as therapy.

What Is A Therapy Dog?

A therapy dog is a dog who has received all relevant training to provide love and comfort to people who are indisposed. Imagine your canine friend with a professional certification that allows it to join you in visiting a hospital or facility, where it would serve not just as your companion but as an aid of wellness to those in the hospital. A dose of therapy dogs helps a person who is sick; physically or mentally, to cope and heal faster.

Differentiating A Therapy Dog From Its Counterparts - Emotional Support Animal (ESA) And Service Dogs

It should be noted that there are three classes of professionally trained dogs that provide additional love and care for persons who are indisposed.

Emotional Support Animal (ESA)

These usually do not need special training. Their role can best be described as that of a psychological guidance animal that simply provides comfort and attention to persons battling with emotional or mental illness. Unlike therapy dogs that require certification from the American Kennel Club, ESAs only need a letter of recommendation from a licensed mental health practitioner stating the particular condition it is suitable to provide emotional support for.

Service Dog

A service dog deals more with the physically challenged. They are trained to perform specific tasks for disabled persons, e.g. A seeing-eye service dog caters to a blind person. While the service dogs focus more on the physically challenged, and the ESAs deal with the emotionally challenged, therapy dogs can handle both by providing comfort to the needy in a public setting such as a hospital, rehabilitation center or nursing home.

Training Your Therapy Dog

According to the American Kennel Club, before a dog is qualified to serve as a therapy dog, it must successfully pass the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test. In the test, the dog will learn basic commands to help it provide the required comfort and attention needed for a therapy dog. The good news about therapy dogs is the fact that any dog can do it. Training a therapy dog is not restricted to any particular breed, your dog just has to be lovable, responsive and at least a year old to qualify as a therapy dog. That is after the CGC test, of course.

Personal Training

You can familiarize yourself with the CGC test and take up personal training of your dog. A perk to this is that it allows for more bonding between you and your dog. While you could engage your dog in private training, by taking it through the basic commands and building its friendliness towards strangers through taking it out for walks and allowing strangers to pet it, you could pay for a private tutor.

Private Tutoring

Expert dog trainers are always available to teach your dog a few tricks and help it respond to basic commands. You can also sign up with any dog training organization and allow the professionals to do their job.

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Positive Reinforcement

Learning thrives in a conducive environment. While some believe being harsh instills "obedience", your dog would fare much better if you interact with it positively. Dog cookies per obedience help to keep them excited and is a much better option than using the fear method that most often results in aggression. Just as a child learns faster when taught with love, a dog learns faster when taught lovingly and encouraged per successful lesson/trick learned.

Outdoor socializing

In training your dog, you need to take it out for walks. Visit a park with loads of kids and adults who would love to pet your dog, and watch how your dog reacts. At first, your dog may be withdrawn due to the noise and strange faces, or even aggressive when someone comes too close. But all that will change when you reassure it and instruct it to behave. Do this constantly, and your dog would not just be accommodating, but loving to strangers.

While the CGC test is crucial to training a therapy dog, you'll need to register with a national therapy dog organization before your dog is ready to brighten lives with its lovableness. In all, your dog should be friendly, disciplined, quiet, explorative and most importantly healthy and vaccinated.

About the author

Ann Hills

My name is Ann Hills and I am a food blogger and a yoga teacher. When I was a child, I often got around my mother and watched her cooking in our kitchen. My mom always says to me that: “Kitchen is the heart of any home”. I strongly believe in her saying that’s reason why I prefer spending my money to make my home better than other stuff.

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