How to Become a Therapy Dog Team

Therapy animals do amazing work, for they can reach people in ways that other humans cannot. Recent studies have proven the impact of our animal friends and each week we find out more data on the positives to having these types of visits. They provide comfort and affection to people in ways humans cannot, and are all the rage these days; visiting at college campuses, hospitals, classrooms as well as many other venues. Therapy dogs have no special rights or privileges, but are allowed where welcomed. Service dogs and emotional support dogs have different roles and rights. Furthermore, a service dog is a working animal and actually isn’t considered a pet, but can perform specific tasks related to the person’s disability, while an emotional support animal is a pet that provides therapeutic support for people with mental illnesses.

Is my dog therapy dog material?

Many people that want to become a therapy dog team want it more than the dog does. We need to make sure the whole team (human handler and canine) enjoys this. An amazing candidate for this program is a dog that is outgoing, does not startle easily and shows empathy. Many of the teams we train started in a basic puppy class and we realized that they have this uncanny ability to have empathy and understand humans a little differently than that of the average canine. They tend to assimilate to new situations and can listen to the handler ASAP! Contrary to popular believe, therapy dogs are not perfect animals, but the team works together and can get through unpredictable situations.

What are the requirements?

Most therapy dogs go through basic obedience classes or are self-taught by the handler. They should be able to listen well without rewards and can listen well around other dogs. There are a few ways to become certified as a therapy dog team and the most popular certifying groups in Southern Arizona are: Pet Partners, Alliance of Therapy Dogs, and The Humane Society’s VIP Therapy Dog program. Each group has different requirements and the insurance varies depending on which group is chosen.
For additional information about the groups, check out their websites:
Each group certifies differently, so please do your research and ask questions to find out which group suits your needs.

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