Therapy dogs are becoming more and more commonly used - everywhere from schools and universities to counselors offices, courtrooms, hospitals and nursing homes. Studies have proven that spending just 15 minutes with a dog can lower blood pressure, bring cortisol levels down, reduce stress and increase serotonin levels. It's no wonder they are being utilized in an increasing number of places.
Any calm, confident dog that loves people and can do the training required can be a therapy dog. Size and breed don't matter - except to maybe the person being visited. Some people may prefer a small dog to sit in their lap while others want a large dog to sit with. Most places do recommend a dog that doesn't shed excessively but so long as you keep up with the basics of grooming before each visit - any dog with the right temperament can do this.
It is important to first recognize the difference between a THERAPY dog and a SERVICE dog. Therapy teams do not have any public access privileges (they can't go to grocery stores, movies, restaurants with you) - they are visitation dogs and only have access to those places they have been invited. Although they share a similar level of training, SERVICE dogs are trained to perform tasks that directly assist their DISABLED handlers and they are the only dogs allowed full access to public places (no matter what the SCAM sites say to sell you a vest and ID).
Therapy dogs work in a variety of locations and programs. Once their training is complete, most teams certify with a specific group like Love On a Leash, TDI or Pet Partners. We train to meet the requirements of all the major groups so you're covered!
THERAPY DOG PREP CLASS
ONLINE CLASSROOM = $199/8 WEEKS
PRIVATE IN-HOME TRAINING = $420/8 WEEKSINCLUDES CERTIFICATION TEST FOR LOVE ON A LEASH MEMBERSHIP
LEVEL - INTERMEDIATE This class focuses on the skills needed to get you and your canine partner ready to do visitation work as a Therapy team. This class is taught to Love On A Leash, TDI and Delta Society/Pet Partners standards and includes a field trip to a local retirement facility as your final test. Dogs must have basic obedience skills firmly in place and be able to pass at least the prerequisites of the Canine Good Citizen class. Most therapy organizations require dog be a minimum of 1 year old to qualify for membership.
There are many different places and programs that teams can enjoy...
These dogs visit hospitals, nursing homes, and rehabilitation facilities. These dogs help individuals who have to been stuck away from home due to mental or physical illness. A visit from a visitation dog can brighten their day, lift their spirits, and help motivate them in their therapy or treatment with the goal of going home.
The main objective of this program is to provide a relaxed and “dog-friendly” atmosphere, which allows students to practice the skill of reading. Many of the children chosen for this program have difficulties reading and as a result have developed self-esteem issues. They are often self-conscious when reading aloud in front of other classmates.
By sitting down next to a dog and reading to the dog, all threats of being judged are put aside. The child relaxes, pats the attentive dog, and focuses on the reading. Reading improves because the child is practicing the skill of reading, building self-esteem, and associating reading with something pleasant.
ANIMAL ASSISTED THERAPY:
These dogs assist physical and occupational therapists in meeting goals important to an individual’s recovery. Some tasks that these dogs can help to achieve include gaining motion in limbs, fine motor control, and hand-eye coordination. Animal Assisted Therapy dogs typically work in rehabilitation facilities.
MILITARY THERAPY DOGS:
A Military Therapy Dog refers to a dog trained to provide physical, occupational, or emotional therapy to wounded soldiers and active duty personnel in military installations, military and VA medical centers, and VA nursing homes.
Combat Stress Control Dogs
These specially trained canines are deployed in theater for active military personnel. They offer emotional support for servicemen and women dealing with combat stress, homefront issues, and sleep disorders. Working with combat stress control units, the dogs provide a nonjudgmental presence. The dogs' handlers have reported that soldiers have talked longer, and more meaningfully, to mental health professionals when the dogs were present.
Physical and Occupational Therapy Dogs
These dogs are important members of physical and occupational therapy rehabilitation teams at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. They can be trained to retrieve, to brace soldiers when they transfer from bed to chair, to help them get up if they fall. Through innovative "tug of war" exercises, the dogs can, with assisted tugging or resisted pulling, help soldiers as they adapt and work with their new prosthetic limbs.
Emotional Therapy Dogs
These dogs work with mental health professionals at VA and military medical centers to facilitate veterans' recovery from mental or social issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder.
A courthouse dog can provide services to children and vulnerable adults testifying in criminal and dependency court matters. The Courthouse Animal Therapy program offers support to these children and adults when giving statements and testimony in court that would otherwise be difficult or impossible for them to provide. Their statements and testimony allows the court to make better decisions.
COUNSELOR/SOCIAL WORK DOGS:
In animal-assisted interventions performed to improve the physical or mental health of human clients, the animal essentially is a go-between to help foster a relationship between a social worker and a client that will provide comfort, promote a sense of safety, and engender trust to expedite a therapeutic response.
Social workers often see people who are resistant to trust, perhaps those who have been hurt by others and who may have attachment or other disorders. With such clients, Tedeschi explains, “Animals can often be a very valuable bridge back to establishing a human relationship. They help build trust and can give people the sense that they can have positive relationships again.”
WANT TO GET INVOLVED? GREAT!!
We are always looking for new teams to join us. Contact us today to do a preparation assessment and see what you would need to do to certify as a Therapy team.