Therapy Dog Training
While many different breeds of dogs are used as therapy dogs, not all dogs are well suited for this type of vocation. Trainers know to look for dogs that are naturally gentle and tolerant of other animals. The ideal therapy dog will be obedient, and show the ability to be affectionate toward strangers, and especially children and the elderly. Dogs that are nervous or that have ill temperaments are not appropriate for use as therapy dogs and could prove to be liabilities.
After the age of one year, therapy dogs undergo a rigorous training period by specially instructed trainers, in which the dog is tested for tolerance, good temperament, obedience and other qualities that are desirable in dogs used for therapeutic purposes. Once the training has been completed, an organization called, “Therapy Dogs International” (TDI) administers tests and evaluates each animal before registering it as an official therapy dog. There are other organizations, as well, that specialize in certifying and training therapy dogs, such as Bright and Beautiful Therapy Dogs, Inc.