Dog Training Certification: All About Therapy Dogs

Often, people who have experienced trauma or a severe illness are not eager to talk to others about right away, if ever.  Sometimes they just want companionship that doesn’t require any explanations or awkwardness.  Humans are not always the best companionship in these times.  What better listener and companion in the world is there than a gentle, patient canine?

Dogs of various breeds have been used in therapy for quite some time, especially when dealing with children.  A friendly dog can take a child’s mind off his or her problems faster than any other thing in this world.  The look on the children’s faces when a dog is brought into the children’s ward of a hospital is an amazing site.  No amount of clowns or magicians in the world that can cheer up a sick kid any faster than your average Labrador Retriever.

Therapy dogs for the most part don’t undergo any kind of specialized training like other types of working dogs.  The biggest factor for therapy dogs is their personality.  The must be calm, patient and gentle.  Depending on the dog’s target group, the exact qualities desired may vary.  Dogs designed to be around children can be more active than those selected for senior citizens for example.  Basically, as long as the dog is gentle and enjoys human company they will be fine.

Depending on where the dogs will work, they will usually be required to have proof of complete vaccinations or even a certification that its temperament has been tested and proven to be suitable for the role.  Temperament tests including assuring that the dog will not react badly to sudden movement, loud noises or the occasional tugged ear.  Though therapy dogs do not enjoy specific rights as per the law like other working dogs do, they are usually allowed into most places with prior permission once their purpose is made known.

Usually therapy dogs serve no special purpose and their presence is all that’s required for them to be effective.  Occasionally however, the dogs can serve in a more direct role such as aiding people in learning to maneuver wheelchairs or providing exercise companionship to those recovering from a major illness or injury.  They have been especially effective in helping wounded service members who are trying to integrate back into society.

Alleviating depression is a skill that therapy dogs specialize in.  Older individuals are especially prone to depression brought on by loneliness and a lost sense of purpose.  These dogs alleviate the depression and make the person feel like they are needed again and are serving a purpose higher than themselves.  Many people have regained their desire to live simply because they didn’t want to leave a canine friend behind.  The bond between dogs and people can be as strong as any bond between two people.

With a world of modern medicine full of drugs and procedures, it’s nice to see an approach to therapy that’s so simple, so effective and basically free.  No one who has ever loved a dog can tell you that there is no pill in this world that can replace a loyal canine companion at one’s side.


Amber Constantine
About the Author:

Amber Contant is a featured adviser and author discussing the issues that all pet owning families will experience. Amber works with Pet-Super-Store. Visit her site for a great selection of dog training collars.

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