To be clear… therapy dogs are not service dogs. Service dogs are dogs who are specially trained to perform specific tasks to help a person who has a disability. Therapy dogs work with their owners to help others.
“Service dogs have special access privileges in accompanying their owner in public places such as on planes or in restaurants. Therapy dogs do not have the same special access.”
–From the American Kennel Club “What is a Therapy Dog”
All dogs are special. Therapy dogs are unique. Successful therapy dogs possess good manners but need to know more than sit, stay, and come. They require additional socialization to work despite constant distractions. They must appear receptive, confident, and steady in settings where most dogs never venture.
Not all dogs can qualify as therapy dogs. Your dog may be great with everyone in your family—even with your relatives and friends—but your dog may not be suitable as a therapy dog.
Basic Therapy Dog Qualifications
Therapy Dogs Must:
- Have a good temperament.
- Know the basic commands of Sit, Down, Stay and Heel on a leash without pulling.
- Be non-aggressive, controllable, and predictable at all times.
- Be at least one year of age AND live with its owner for at least 6 months.
- Be clean, well-groomed, and free of parasites.
- Enjoy visiting. A good therapy dog is happy while working.
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