How to Train Your Dog for Therapy Service

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Dogs are pros at making you feel better when you’ve had a bad day or you’re couch-bound while sick, and they can help other people feel the same expansive dog love with a little training. Training your dog to be a therapy dog means they’ll be able bring joy to children who are stuck in the hospital, provide companionship for older folks, and comfort those with disabilities.

What Types of Dogs Are Good for Therapy Training

The first step when thinking about certifying your pup as a therapy dog is to find out if they’re the right type. Jennifer Henley, Ph.D., the manager of the Animal Assisted Therapy program at the San Francisco SPCA, says that personality matters much more than breed when it comes to dogs that are great at therapy. Your dog should:

  • Enjoy meeting new people
  • Have no negative history (like nipping or biting)
  • Follow commands, like sit, leave it, stay and down
  • Be okay with new noises, smells, and environments
  • Be able to be calm and sit still during visits

Training and being a therapy dog is a lot of work for both of you, so your dog should not only like working, but should like this type of work. For example, if your dog likes work such as fetching, herding, or tracking, they may not be as suitable for therapy since it involves ignoring distractions and following commands promptly. Dogs that are known for their intelligence and are easy to train, like guard dogs or terriers, may take faster to therapy training and be better suited.

Henley recommends knowing…

Sasha Harriet

Sasha Harriet

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