Therapy Dog Training & Certification
Please check back for our next
Therapy Dog Training Orientation,
This Orientation is a great opportunity to learn about getting dogs trained and certified to do therapy work in hospitals, schools, libraries, and nursing homes.
We will discuss differences in Therapy Dogs, Service dogs and Emotional Support dogs. Organizations certifying therapy dogs will be introduced and general training guidelines will be discussed.
In the meantime, please feel free to take a look at our Therapy Dog Orientation hand out (PDF)
Therapy dogs are NOT service dogs. Service dogs are dogs who are specifically trained to perform a task or tasks to assist a person with a disability or impairment. A service dog must be with their person at all times and has special access privileges in public places.
Therapy work involves volunteers who schedule visits to various facilities and locations such a nursing homes, classrooms, libraries, assisted living centers, hospices, funeral homes, schools, shelters even courtrooms.
The moment a volunteer with a therapy dog walks into a room, you can instantly feel a change in mood. All eyes focus on them, as smiles spread across everyone’s faces.
Whether they’re working with a child who is learning to read, visiting a patient in a hospital or a senior in assisted living, therapy dogs and their owners work together as a team to improve the lives of other people. A dog can provide a valuable sense of reassurance, joy, or calmness to people experiencing stressful, lonely or depressing situations or general times in their life.
National organizations will certify your therapy dog, but there is no universal legal standard for what constitutes a therapy dog. However, there are some basic requirements that your therapy dog should meet before it can be considered a therapy dog.
Your therapy dog should, of course, be well-behaved and follow all commands. Therapy dogs should also be calm and in your control at all times. This is especially important for therapy dogs as they are often in settings like hospitals and schools with lots of people, noise, and unexpected distractions. Therapy dog handlers should also have an understanding of how to deal with people who are experiencing distress.
Obedience training and the American Kennel Club (AKC) Canine Good Citizen (CGC) program is a great first step to get started to train your dog to become a therapy dog.
Our obedience classes include an explanation of how each lesson applies to the AKC Canine Good Citizen program. Free CGC testing for class participants will be offered the week following completion of the class.
For many therapy dog organizations the classes and passing the CGC test are not required, but they will give you a very good idea of where your dog is in the process and what might need some improvement.
If you are interested to achieve the AKC Therapy Dog title, please visit their website. You will find a list of AKC accepted organizations on their website as well.
Therapy dog training and certification questions: Katja Walthers, firstname.lastname@example.org or (563) 265 - 2995 (text messages only)