Therapy Dogs – How To Get Your Dog Certified

A therapy dog is a dog of any breed or mix that is trained to provide affection as well as comfort in many settings. Therapy dogs serve in assisted living facilities, hospice, nursing homes, hospitals, mental health facilities and even airports. 

Many therapy dogs are trained at home by their owners and some go through formal training programs. Although there may be a therapy dog group in your area, one of the largest therapy dog organizations is the Alliance of Therapy Dogs. There is a reasonable registration fee and one of the benefits is being covered by their insurance policy.

Here is what the Alliance of Therapy Dogs is looking for in terms of a dog who will be a good therapy animal:

One – The dog must be at least one year old and must be friendly.

Two – If your dog is suitable then a tester in your area will test both you and your dog. This will include seeing how well you handle your dog and will make certain the dog has good manners and a calm disposition.

Three – Once you and your dog pass step two, both of you are then have three visits with residents of various medical facilities and are supervised by the tester. 

If successful, you may then submit your application (which includes a background check) and paperwork to become a certified Therapy Team. Unlike service dogs, therapy dogs do not enjoy any special rights which would enable them to accompany their owners into businesses such as hotels and so forth. They can go into any establishment which has a therapy dog program.

If you are interested and have a dog you think would make a great therapy dog, visit the Alliance of Therapy Dogs new member page by clicking here.

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By Ellen Britt

Dr. Ellen Britt has loved dogs since she was a child. She is particularly fond of the Northern breeds, especially Alaskan Malamutes. Ellen worked as a PA in Emergency and Occupational Medicine for two decades and holds a doctorate (Ed.D.) in biology.

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