If you’d like to learn more about training your dog to do therapy work, there are many great resources listed below.
Qualifications for therapy dogs include:
- A dog of any breed can serve as a therapy dog.
- Must have excellent manners and have on-leash obedience training.
- Be under control and well-behaved.
- Be able to work around other dogs and be free of dog-to-dog aggression.
- Be social with people, enjoy being touched, have a stable temperament, and be free of fear and aggression.
- Remain calm in new situations and with distractions.
Therapy Dogs International, notes, “A Therapy Dog must have an outstanding temperament. This means that the dog should be outgoing and friendly to all people; men, women, and children. The dog should be tolerant of other dogs (of both genders) and non-aggressive toward other pets. Before you consider having your dog evaluated, you should ask yourself if your dog has these qualities.”
Therapy Dogs of Vermont is a nonprofit 200-member organization that evaluates, trains, and places therapy dog/owner teams with clients and facilities throughout Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, and even parts of Canada. Visit their website at www.therapydogs.org.
Therapy Dogs International (TDI), founded in 1976, is thought to be the first therapy dog organization. TDI is a volunteer organization dedicated to regulating, testing and registration of therapy dogs and their volunteer handlers for the purpose of visiting nursing homes, hospitals, other institutions and wherever else therapy dogs are needed. Visit their website at: www.tdi-dog.org.
Therapy Dogs Inc. provides registration, support, and insurance for members who are involved in volunteer animal assisted activities. They currently have 12,000+ handler/dog teams in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Territories. Visit their website at: www.therapydogs.com.
Pet Partners (previously named Delta Society) registers handlers of multiple species as volunteer teams providing animal-assisted interactions. Cats, horses, rabbits, pigs, birds, llamas and alpacas, guinea pigs and even rats are eligible for evaluation through the Pet Partners program. They offer online course and webinars. Visit their website at: www.petpartners.org.
Lutheran Church Charities’ K-9 Comfort Dog Ministry is a national ministry utilizing the unique skills of dogs, specifically Golden Retrievers, to open opportunities to touch people with Mercy and Compassion of Christ. Our dogs are trained service animals prepared to interact with people in ways that provide a bridge for compassionate ministry to take place. Click here to visit their website.
The American Kennel Club offers a comprehensive list of therapy dog organizations across the country. To view their therapy dog resource page, click here.