Therapy dogs do vital work helping people from all walks of life to recuperate in hospitals, learn in schools, and get over trauma in various social settings such as airports and funeral homes.
This vital work is undertaken by valued volunteers, both canine and human, who give their time and effort to provide this important service.
A great way that our members can help us to raise awareness is to make a social media account for their therapy dog.
With 3.8 billion people around the world currently using some form of social media, platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter can be a great way to engage with dog lovers and show them the benefits that therapy dogs can bring.
For beginners, starting a social media account on behalf of their dog can be a challenge, so here are some tips to help you get started and spread the word about the value of therapy dogs.
Get Your Dog Certified As A Therapy Dog
If your dog isn’t already a certified therapy dog, then you need to become a member of an organization like the Alliance of Therapy Dogs and go through the process of getting your dog registered as a therapy dog.
You’ll have to go through a background check, a handling test, and 3 observations before you and your furry friend are certified with us. We accept dogs of all breeds and mixes; our main focus is on dogs that have the right temperament, a great relationship with their owner and are tolerant of other dogs. Once you’re certified, you can start visiting facilities such as hospitals, prisons, and schools with your dog.
Create An Account On A Popular Platform
Having established yourself as a therapy dog handler, you can create a social media account for your pet.
Each of the popular social media platforms has its benefits:
- Facebook: The most popular platform on the market currently, Facebook is a great choice if you want to raise awareness of the work therapy dogs do. You can share photos, videos and written posts of any length.
- Twitter: Another popular platform, Twitter is unique because it restricts the number of characters each post is allowed to be. It’s more interactive and quicker than many other platforms, so it’s good if you want to quickly make an impact with pictures and snappy posts.
- Instagram: Designed for photos, Instagram is great if you love taking pictures of your pup performing their therapy work. You can include captions to tell your followers about the work your dog is doing and how it’s benefiting everyone you meet.
- YouTube: YouTube is a platform built for video, so you’ll need to be confident about filming your dog at work if you want to make an impact here. It can be great for those who want to share regular videos and really build an online personality for their pet.
- TikTok: A new platform, TikTok allows you to share short mobile videos. It can be hard to use this platform to discuss therapy work, but if you’re good at filming and editing videos then you could make your pup a big star on this popular platform.
Most pet owners set up their accounts in the name of their pet, so once you’ve chosen a platform you like, all you’ve got to do is find a cute pic of your pup in their therapy dog uniform and provide a little information on your dog and you’re good to go!
Share Photos Of Your Dog Performing Their Therapy Work
Once you’ve created your account, you need to promote it and get followers. The easiest way to do this is to share lots of content. You can write posts about your dog’s work, but the best way to get attention is to share visual content.
That means taking photos of your pup at work as a therapy dog. You’ll need to get permission from the facilities you visit to share their details on social media, and you’ll also need individual permission to share images and footage of people petting your dog. Make sure you’ve got permission before you share anything, so you know that everyone will be happy with your content.
If you want to share a photo to be posted on any Alliance of Therapy Dogs social media, you will need a signed ATD photo authorization form.
When you do take photos of your dog when visiting, make sure you are following the ATD rules such as: always holding the leash in your hand; and having all dogs at least two feet apart. Posting pictures that show you not observing the rules will surely get you some negative comments from others.
You should also show your dog having fun and living their best life outside of therapy work too! You can include mention of their therapy work in every post so that your followers remember that even when they’re having fun playing with their toys and having cuddles with their owner, your dog is still a symbol for our organization.
Highlight the Importance Of Therapy Dogs
All your hard work posting the good work your dog does will earn you lots of followers. Some of the most popular pet accounts have thousands of followers, so your pet could become a fan favorite if you’re lucky! Look at other trendy pet accounts to get inspiration and raise your profile so you can make more of an impact.
As you grow your account, you’ll have more opportunities to share information on the importance of therapy dogs. You can share articles from our blog, which discuss popular topics and showcase the benefits our work has for children and adults who need comfort and support.
If you’re unsure of what information to share, then you can talk to one of our therapy dog Tester/Observers. They’re experts in all things therapy dogs, so they’ll be able to help you showcase their importance and get people interested in helping us with this essential work.
Using your platform to showcase the work that therapy dogs do is a great way to help us provide our services to more facilities across America.
As a nationwide network of dog lovers and experienced therapy dog handlers with 17,000 active members, the Alliance of Therapy Dogs is able to provide testing, certification, registration, support, and insurance for members who volunteer with dogs to bring joy to a variety of facilities.
From schools to nursing homes, hospices to hospitals and even more, we take our dogs where they’re needed and provide support to people in need of the cheer only a dog can bring.
Our work would be impossible without our team of volunteers, and we’re always grateful for any support.