How to Train a Therapy Dog

Therapy dogs are an important part of society. They serve as companions, comfort, and guides for their owners. Dogs are naturally eager to be friendly to their owner, and therapy dogs are trained to evoke these qualities. Unlike a dog that is a family pet, therapy dogs have to be professional at all times without slipping up. Therapy dogs require specific training, but there are some underlying qualities that can point out whether or not a dog would make a good therapy dog. Here are five of those qualities that can help you determine if your K9 companion would be a good therapy dog:

1. Ability to Ignore Stimuli

Therapy dogs need to be able to venture everywhere with their humans. However busy the area may be, your dog has to be able to remain focused the entire time they’re on duty. They cannot be easily distracted or run off at random intervals. Their mind has to be set on the task at hand.

2. Ability to Get Along Well With Others

Your dog needs to be able to get along with not just other dogs but people as well. If they react in a more anxious or nervous manner around others, this can keep them from successfully doing their job. However, if they also have behavioral issues, this can also result in them creating a more hostile environment.

3. A Calm Demeanor  

Your dog needs to be able to remain calm at all times. Most dogs are hyperactive with a lot of energy, and although this can be a good quality for a family dog it acts as more of a crutch for therapy dogs. A therapy dog has to be able to create a relaxing atmosphere, and high energy outputs can have opposite results. They cannot be jumping all over people and running around, they have to be able to stay stationary and in control. There are no bad dogs, only bad behaviors that must be corrected via behavioral training.

4. They’re Gentle

Naturally, dogs do not understand their own strength. Their jaws are powerful, and they can end up hurting someone with what is meant to be a playful nip. If a dog is unable to control its strength, this will prohibit them from being able to be a good therapy dog. To ensure that a therapy dog will have no issues with nipping, advanced obedience training is required. While it is understandable for a dog to want to play, therapy dogs need to learn to control their urges while working. They will constantly be around strangers, both young and old. During this time they have to be able to control their reactions by remaining gentle whenever they’re approached.

5. Tolerance for Physical Contact

Some dogs can shrink away whenever someone goes in to pet them. This type of behavior comes from a gut reaction of fear. Although they could be a very sweet dog, if they are unable to receive contact then they won’t be able to do their job, and in worst cases may respond with aggression. 

Train Your Dog to be a Therapy Dog Today

If you feel as though your dog meets these qualifications, then registering for them to begin training today is possible. Our therapy dog training services are available in Brookfield, Danbury, New Milford and all the surrounding towns. We are also able to offer you in-home training sessions as well. Want to start your dog on the path to obedience at a young age? Our puppy training will incite good habits in your furry friend so they can grow up to be well behaved, and maybe become a therapy dog themselves! Give us a call today to learn more, we can be reached at: (203) 788-6148.