“I’m very social, ready to mingle with a single owner or become the latest member of a large family!”
This handsome, 4-year-old chocolate boy was the star pupil in his obedience training class. Barney is not only very smart but affectionate and just loves people of all sizes. He doesn’t mind cats but prefers a home without another dog!; LRROF.org.
Volunteering with your dog through animal-assisted therapy work at hospitals, schools and other places where therapy dogs are needed can be so rewarding and fun. But first the dog must be certified. There are several organizations that offer Therapy Dog Certifications, so it’s up to you to decide which organization you’d like to become certified through. I’m going to tell you about the Alliance of Therapy Dogs (ATD) which is the organization my dog and I are certified through. ATD’s certification program is based on the temperament of your dog, not obedience. This means that your dog must naturally possess a good nature to pass the requirements for certification. That’s not to say that obedience doesn’t play a role in therapy dog work. For example, if your dog is really friendly with people but constantly jumps up on them, you’ll want to train him not to jump up as this can be dangerous to an elderly person or small child. Therapy dogs are not only expected to be very calm around people, but to gravitate to strangers for petting. As a therapy dog evaluator, I meet a lot of dogs who don’t really enjoy doing the volunteer work even though their humans do. If your dog is actually a social butterfly and thrives on attention from any and all people, then the first step is going to TherapyDogs.com and joining the ATD’s membership. You’ll have to do a background check and get a health verification form completed by your veterinarian before your dog can be seen by an evaluator. Assuming your dog has the correct temperament for therapy dog work, it’s actually a pretty easy process. What a great way to spend time with your dog and do something amazing for your community!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
› Dee Hoult is the owner of Applause Your Paws, South Florida’s largest privately owned pet dog training company. Want to ask Dee a question about your dog? Email [email protected] or send a DM on Instagram @ApplauseYourPaws.