Therapy dogs are wonderful! These certified four-legged creatures are known to spread joy and bring back lost smiles. They are proven to reduce stress, anxiety and ease loneliness and so are loved as healing companions.

If you are considering getting your friendly fido registered as a therapy dog, this mini-guide will help you through the process.

Understanding What Therapy Dogs Do

Therapy dogs are certified animals that provide comfort, affection, and love to people in need.

They are brought to health facilities, nursing homes, schools, courtrooms, and airports to assist people suffering from anxiety, depression, and other psychological ailments. Such dogs are well-suited to help patients with a mental or physical diagnosis find happiness or companionship.

Simply put, a therapy dog offers its service by entertaining, accompanying, and attending to the emotional needs of a person going through a rough time.

Therapy Dog Testing

Since therapy dogs are only required to provide love and support, there is no need for them to get specialized training.

However, a therapy dog must be sociable and should possess basic manners in dealing with people. As therapy dogs meet new people on a regular basis, they should be friendly and comfortable being around strangers.

Before being certified the team (handler and dog) must pass a test that assesses the dog’s relationship with the handler (under control and emotionally connected); the dog’s relationship with other dogs (is calm and can be in the same area without interacting or overexcitement) and the dog’s relationship with strangers (is friendly and seeks them out).  The dog must also be comfortable with the types of equipment and noises they may find when visiting.

Special Therapy Dog Necessities

Dogs of all breeds, sizes, and shapes are accepted to become therapy dogs.

Dogs that are confident, well-mannered, and have a friendly temperament make perfect therapy dog companions.

Besides personality traits, therapy dogs should meet certain health requirements they must:

  • have undergone a medical health check-up by a vet in the last 12 months.
  • be up to date rabies vaccination or rabies titers.
  • be current on their core vaccinations.
  • have had a negative fecal test report in the past 12 months.
  • be at least one year old.

How to Get Your Dog Certified as a Therapy Dog?

To see the Alliance of Therapy Dogs process to getting your dog certified as a therapy dog, click here.

Once you pass the test and become a member of our organization, there are many facilities for you and your dog to visit and volunteer. With an extensive network of therapy dogs, volunteers, testers and observers, we have brought smiles on million faces and healed many thousands of hearts.

Once you have completed a background check and your dog has the medical necessary medical clearances, the next step is a test by a local tester/observer followed by three coaching visits in a local institution.  We have a set of criteria to examine you and your dog which includes:

  • Meeting new people
  • Under control in a group situation
  • Calmness while visiting in a facility
  • Being around other dogs
  • Reaction to unusual circumstances and equipment like a noisy hospital situation

If you wish to join with Alliance of Therapy Dogs and get your dog certified as a therapy dog, call at 877-843-7364. To know more about the organization, click here.