How To Train Your Dog To Be A Therapy Dog

 

What Qualities Does Your Dog Need?

Have you thought about taking your dog to assisted living facilities to be a therapy dog? Good dog training is the key. Actually, most any dog can be a therapy dog.

We’ve all seen news segments about dogs that have been rescued from dog shelters, that were trained to work as therapy dogs to visit nursing homes or rehabilitation facilities.

Little dogs like Yorkshire Terriers and bigger dogs like Collies, Cocker Spaniels or Poodles make great therapy dogs.
You may want to dress your dog in a new soft harness. These are great for keeping your dog from pulling and injuring his/her trachea.

Much bigger dogs like Great Danes are wonderful in this capacity, but sometimes the rooms in the facility are not large enough to accommodate everyone.

If you have a family dog that you think would be wonderful as a therapy dog, but he’s a little rough around the edges, then you need to consider training.

To save time and money, you may want to train your dog yourself at home.
Many people have great success with clicker training.

Good Conduct is a MUST!

When taking your dog to a nursing home or assisted living facility you want to make sure that his conduct is above reproach.

The only way you can be sure is proper training which will help him with his manners.
• Also, your dog must enjoy being petted or held. Your dog needs to be housetrained, trained to not be barky or aggressive.

• He needs to follow the commands of sit, stay, shake and hand signals from you.
These are all easily taught if you have the proper knowledge and know how to convey that knowledge to your dog.

• Ask yourself if your dog has the proper temperament to meet and greet residents in these facilities.
If you feel like your dog will be good in this role, then it’s time to prepare your dog.

Prepare Your Dog

Training your dog to be a therapy dog can be so rewarding.

Your dog will love his new job. There are many dogs that are well suited for this position in life.

•Your dog does not need to be a pure bred fancy dog–a mixed breed dog that has a good personality will bring joy to those he visits.

•He needs good manners and his coat needs to be clean.
Don’t bring your dog to a facility if his coat is matted and dirty. If you don’t bathe him yourself, then take him to a groomer.

• Make sure the toenails are clipped, so as not to scratch furniture or skin.

•A dog that is going to be petted and hugged needs to be sweet smelling. It’s also good to brush your dog to get excess hair that might be shed.

• Many dogs have hair that does not shed and are good for people with allergies to hair–like Yorkshire Terriers.

•There are other wonderful dogs that do not shed, but even if your dog sheds his coat, that does not disqualify him from being a therapy dog. Just do some extensive grooming before he makes his rounds.

You may want to visit the facility without your dog at first to get the feel of the place, so that you know your way around.
Meet the staff and possibly some of the residents to see who will welcome your future visits.
You need to know the entrances and exits that you and your dog are welcome to use.

Also, find out where your dog will be allowed to go and relieve himself.

Always take some doggie bags with you to clean up behind your dog so that you will be welcome to come back in the future.

As your visits will probably take a couple hours, be sure to have water and maybe a little food for your dog. After all, all this visiting takes a lot out of your dog!

Also, it’s good to carry water from home for your dog, just in case there might be chemicals in the water that might upset your dog’s stomach. They do get used to their own water at home.

Buy a portable water bowl, so it’s easy for you to carry. They are lightweight.

There may be an outdoor area like a covered porch where several of the residents might be able to gather to meet you and your dog.
This works nicely for those residents that are in wheelchairs.

You will need to know if anyone is afraid or allergic to dogs.
You don’t want them in an uncomfortable situation, but you also don’t want to place your dog in an uncomfortable situation either.

The Joy of Giving

There will always be a certain amount of stress each time you visit with your therapy dog, as there will be new residents to meet.
As long as your dog is comfortable in this situation, the smells of the facility and different noise levels will not be a concern.

You will get to know many residents of these facilities if you visit on a regular basis. It will mean so much to those who are confined and have not enjoyed dog companionship in a long time.

If you have the companionship of your dog on a daily basis, can you imagine how much you would miss that if you suddenly couldn’t have your dog with you anymore? That’s why therapy dogs play such an important role. You will both be greatly rewarded.

So, if your dog needs a little extra training, it’s time to start, so you can start bringing some joy back into the lives of these people living in these nursing homes or rehabilitation facilities.

Let’s start spreading some joy!

Just imagine the joy you can bring to someone living in one of these facilities. Perhaps they had a dog earlier in their life, but cannot have one any longer.
The chance to pet a dog or cuddle with a dog delights the heart.

By training your companion dog to be a therapy dog  has great rewards for you as well as the recipient of the dogs affection.

Your dog will enjoy it too!