CHLA Dog Therapy Program 2017
How to Train a Therapy Dog
Therapy dogs are dogs that provide love and attention to a wide variety of people in need. For example, they can give children or older people in distress a feeling of well being and love when they are staying in a hospital or care center. If you would like to train your dog to be a therapy dog, you first need to assess whether your dog is right for this type of job. Then you need to train it to be calm and friendly in whatever setting it enters.
Training Your Dog at Home
Socialize your dog with a variety of people.For a dog to become a great therapy dog, it should have early and consistent socialization. It should be exposed to people in a wide variety of locations starting at an early age. This will help it get used to the wide variety of people and places it will visit as a therapy dog.
- Make sure your dog is meeting people of different sizes, ages, genders, and ethnicities. This will get it used to interacting with a wide variety of people.
- You should also expose your dog to people who use wheelchairs, crutches, skateboards, bicycles, and strollers, as the dog needs to get used to these devices. They must learn to stay calm when they encounter these "aides."
- Even if a full grown dog was not socialized early in its life, there is a chance that you can effectively socialize it later in life. This socialization process will be more challenging but it can be done, especially with professional dog training help.
Have your dog interact with other dogs.Bring your dog into contact with other dogs on a regular basis. For instance, take it to a dog park to play with other dogs weekly. This will help it to stay calm when it comes into contact with other dogs in the future.
- Having your dog interact with other dogs will also help you assess whether it can be non-reactive when it gets into stressful situations, which is necessary if the dog is to become a therapy dog.
- Speak with your veterinarian about when your puppy is eligible to go to obedience classes or the dog park. Before the vet gives an okay, it's best to minimize your pet's interaction with other dogs.
- Puppies should begin to be socialized by interacting with a wide variety of people immediately. However, it should begin visiting a wide variety of locations that other dogs frequent once it is immunized against common communicative diseases, such as distemper, rabies, parvovirus and parainfluenza. This immunization is usually complete when the dog it 14 to 16 weeks old.
Consider using clicker training with your dog.This type of training includes signaling the dog with a clicking sound that you want it to do a specific task. This can be a reliable and effective way of communicating with your dog during training.
- You give your dog a verbal command and then click your clicker. When the action is completed, you give the dog a treat or positive reinforcement. This will teach the dog that the clicker and the treat are connected.
Build a strong relationship with your dog.As you raise your puppy to become a therapy dog, it's important to build a trusting and loving relationship with your dog. You will be handling it in therapy situations and you want the dog to have total trust in your commands and directions in these types of situations.
- Building a strong relationship with your dog requires that you spend a lot of quality time with it. Train it and play with it on a daily basis.
- Establishing a good relationship with your dog also requires that you are kind and fair with your dog. Don't be cruel to it, yell at it, or hit it. This will make your dog distrustful of you.
Giving Your Dog Official Training
Take your dog to a therapy dog training class.In order for your dog to become a reliable and steadfast therapy dog, it is a good idea to take it to a dedicated training course. These courses put dogs through the paces so that they can deal with any situations that they might come into contact with while on therapy visits.
- There are a wide variety of organizations that offer therapy dog classes. These include many Humane Society branches and non-profit organizations dedicated to promoting therapy dog work.
- Training courses can last anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks, depending on the length of each class. The classes are usually done 1 or 2 nights a week and cost around 0.
- It is a good idea to have your dog trained by someone experienced, as opposed to doing the training yourself. Not only will the experienced trainer be able to work with both you and your dog more effectively, they will then be able to connect you with therapy opportunities in your area once training is completed.
Begin short interactions.Once your dog has completed therapy dog training classes, you should begin taking it for therapy sessions. Typically, the first visits your dog does will be organized through the training program it has completed.
- You should not begin using a dog as a therapy dog before it has gone through training.
Have your dog tested.Once your dog has finished its training course and has done several preliminary therapy sessions, you can have its skills officially tested. These tests are used when getting your dog certified as a therapy dog. They will also help ensure that your dog is indeed skilled enough to enter therapy situations.
- Therapy dog testing is conducted by therapy dog programs and organizations, such as Therapy Dogs International.
- Your dog will likely be tested on its interactions with strangers, its responses to basic commands, and its ability to ignore various stimuli, such as other dogs.
Earn therapy dog registrations and certificates.Once you begin to do visits with your therapy dog, you can apply for a variety of titles and registrations that certify that your dog is a trained therapy dog. These typically require that your dog complete a certain number of visits and that these visits are documented.
- Search for registration and certificate programs online. Keep the requirements for programs you are interested in mind when you start bringing your dog on therapy visits. This will ensure that you document them correctly as you go along.
- As your dog completes more and more therapy visits, it will be eligible for more advanced titles.
Determining Whether Your Dog Should Be a Therapy Dog
Assess whether your dog is well-suited to be a therapy dog.Most people love their dogs and they enjoy the comfort and entertainment that the dog brings to their life. However, even though your dog delights you, that doesn't mean it has the temperament to be a therapy dog. Therapy dogs need to be uniquely calm, steady, and non-reactive to a wide variety of stimulus.
- Consider how your dog behaves in unpredictable situations as a starting point for assessing your dog. A good therapy dog should be calm, steady and not fearful or aggressive if something unpredictable or unusual happens.
- Some basic requirements for therapy dogs include no history of aggression, good obedience skills, currently vaccinated, reliably house trained, welcoming to strangers, and at least one year old.
Decide if you want to commit to handling a therapy dog.Committing to having a therapy dog will require a lot of work on your part, not just for your dog. A therapy dog handler needs to go through training and classes alongside the dog. They also need additional classes to learn how to handle a therapy dog correctly.
- When considering taking all the required classes and dedicating your time to this project, you also need to take the cost into consideration. Therapy dog training classes are not free, so making your dog a therapy dog is both an investment of time and money.
Have your dog assessed by a professional.Even if you are sure that your dog would make a good therapy dog, it's still necessary to have it assessed by a professional to see if they agree. A professional dog trainer or therapy dog instructor can assess your dog without bias and tell you whether the dog is a good candidate for therapy training.
- Many therapy dog programs require you to have your dog assessed before it is admitted to the program.
- Working with a professional dog trainer will cost you money. The fee varies, so discuss the cost of the assessment before hiring a trainer to do it.
QuestionHow do I get my dog certified as a therapy dog?
Licensed Veterinary TechnicianLicensed Veterinary TechnicianExpert AnswerYou need to go through a course that will certify your dog as suitable for therapy work. Go to your country's service dog registration website.Thanks!
QuestionHow much is it to train a dog to be a therapy dog?
Licensed Veterinary TechnicianLicensed Veterinary TechnicianExpert AnswerThat depends on what company or professional you do your course through and their pricing.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I register my dog as an emotional support animal?
Licensed Veterinary TechnicianLicensed Veterinary TechnicianExpert AnswerEmotional support animals are not really a verified certification. You can get this done just by paying money online. You don't need to go through a course or have any kind of professional assessment. This makes it not a reliable or real certification for your dog. Consider getting your dog certified as a therapy dog or service animal instead.Thanks!
- It is a good idea to socialize a puppy early if you want it to be a therapy dog. Once the puppy can safely interact with other dogs and people, meaning it has had its shots, then you can begin bringing it into contact with as many people, animals, sights, and smells as possible.
Video: Texas Children’s Therapy Dog Program
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