A Therapy Dog is a dog who provides comfort and affection to people in need, they may offer their services to hospitals, nursing homes, schools, people with learning difficulties or disabilities, etc. They often provide therapy by performing small tricks for their audience or by playing carefully structured games. They also play a big role in balancing the energy of people with anxieties and fears by giving of their own calm energy.
How do I know if my dog can be a Therapy Dog?
The most important characteristic of a therapy dog is its temperament. If your dog is friendly, patient, confident, gentle, and at ease in all situations, they more than likely qualify for Therapy Dog Certification. A good way to briefly assess if your dog would make a therapy dog is to expose them to overstimulating situations. Keep in mind that a Therapy dog will be around children, wheelchairs, people with disabilities, and lots of strangers. The dog might need to climb onto an individual’s lap or bed and sit or lie comfortably there
What is the process for making my dog a Certified Therapy Dog?
To belong to Therapy Dogs International (TDI®) all dogs must be tested and evaluated by a Certified TDI Evaluator*. A dog must be a minimum of one (1) year of age and have a sound temperament. Each dog must pass a TDI temperament evaluation for suitability to become a Therapy Dog, which includes the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen Test (CGC). The test will also include the evaluation of the dog’s behavior around people with the use of some type of service equipment (wheelchairs, crutches, etc.). A brochure detailing this information can be found HERE.
As a member and evaluator of TDI, there is no fee for testing your dog to become certified, however, there is a charge for the training work done in order for your dog to complete the steps successfully.
Are Therapy Dogs the same thing as Service Dogs?
No. Therapy dogs provide affection, comfort, and positive energy to people. Service Dogs are trained from birth to assist disabled people by doing things like opening and closing doors, retrieving objects, or other tasks as needed by a disabled person. There are also Guide Dogs, Hearing Dogs, and Signal Dogs. All of these are in the family of Assistance Dogs and are different from Therapy Dogs.
For more information about Therapy Dogs and TDI please visit http://www.tdi-dog.org/
If you believe that your canine companion has the characteristics of a Therapy Dog and you would like to train and/or certify him/her, please contact Ramella’s Canine Academy at any of the following numbers: (347) 723-2347, (718) 932-5556, or (201) 660-8291.
*Ramella Chamaki has been working with Therapy Dogs for several years and is a Certified TDI Evaluator.
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