How to Train a Therapy Dog: 6 Methods Commonly Used by Professionals

Therapy dog is meant to provide comfort and affections for people, especially for those that are hospitalized or have certain medical conditions. The animals should possess friendly and calm characteristics; the interactions created between human and animal can be such excellent healing method or at least it can help healthcare practitioners to quicken the healing process.

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Any dog of any breed can be trained; there are even many organizations or teams from all across the country that offer special training classes and programs. The following passages describe how to train a therapy dog using the methods commonly used by professionals.

1. Basic Commands

First of all, please make sure that the dog obeys some basic commands such as sit, stay, or walk. The training must be conducted in such gentle manner without involving any physical force. Use positive approach and tone to deliver the command; do not scream, yell, or hit in any case.

2. Interacting with strangers

A therapy dog will meet many strangers in hospitals and other health institutions. It is important to teach the animal to accept and positively approach strangers. Dog is an impressively loyal animal, but in some circumstances, it can be overprotective. This is not a good nature for a therapy dog; it has to be calm, obedience, and friendly to people. Please remember that in medical institutions, one of the patients may also want to pet the dog.

3. Interacting with other dogs

It is essential that the existence of another dog does not create overwhelming interest because such thing may promote disobedience. Teach the dog that it is good to interact with other animals. Often, many therapy dogs visit hospitals or schools in the same time; they may also need to attend a parade with other animals as well.

4. Loose leash

The dog must never pull a strain on the leash; it is actually a simple thing, but is very important. It shows that the animal is completely obedient and that the handler is in full control under any circumstances.

5. Concerning medical equipments

Please put in mind that a therapy dog must attend health examination regularly. In most cases, the health check will be conducted by veterinarian. During the examination, the animal will logically see a wide range of medical equipment which may not be too friendly.

In this situation, the animal will need to be calm and obedient. The handler has to teach the animal that the entire medical equipment is not threatening. Furthermore, in medical facilities or schools, the similar equipment also probably exists. A good therapy dog is not allowed to indicate any indication of panic, aggression, or disobedience.

6. Reaction to infirmities

Physical infirmities can be such great distractions in normal condition, but as a therapy dog, the conditions must not lead to any inappropriate behaviors such as barking, sniffing, jumping and growling especially in hospitals or schools.

Therapy dog should be a friendly and affectionate animal yet discipline and obedient. The mentioned methods can be used as the basic references on how to train a therapy dog; commonly, the training and tests are conducted by professional organizations or special training teams.