Q:

What are the requirements for a dog to become a therapy dog?

A:

Quick Answer

Therapy dogs are required to be calm, friendly, obedient and healthy, and they must register with a group that represents therapy dog teams. Any breed of dog is eligible to become a therapy dog. Timid dogs or dogs with any history of aggression are not suitable for therapy dogs.

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Full Answer

The dog and its owner or therapy partner must be suited to the work. This involves being calm, even-keeled and friendly. Dogs must enjoy interacting with people and enjoy being touched.

The Delta Society, a group that registers therapy dog teams, offers courses to train dogs and their partners to visit nursing homes, hospitals and interact with clients. Before training for therapy dog work, a dog should complete basic obedience training. Dogs should be able to sit on command, walk comfortably on a leash and stay.

Working with a therapy dog lowers blood pressure, promotes healing and reduces anxiety, fatigue and depression, according to Therapy Dogs United. Therapy dogs help children improve reading because when they read to dogs, their learning is enhanced. Disabled and autistic children benefit from therapy dogs as well. Therapy dogs may also relieve stress for hospital workers and patients and ease the loneliness of isolated individuals in nursing homes.

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