Friday, May 14, 2010

Therapy Dogs

Let's talk about Therapy Dogs International.

When friends and family ask about therapy dog and owner responsibilites and what we do, the same questions are often asked.  Here is a rundown of typical questions and answers:

Q: What are the requirements to have a dog certified as a therapy dog?
A:  The dog (and owner) must pass eleven requirements in order to be certified as a "therapy dog".

Q: So what are the steps?
A: see photo below (click on highlighted area to enlarge)

Q: Can all dogs qualify for training?
A: No.  The dog must allow petting and be unafraid of strangers, loud noises, and differing situations.  One of our dogs was not a good candidate for TDI training, and one pup was willing to be trained.

Q: How do I get started in the process of training my dog?
A: Any obedience training program is the first step in teaching your dog to comply with the requirements.

Q:  I have a yappy dog; can she be trained to work for her kibble?
A: Yes, we have a b*tch of a dog when she is at home, loves to bark and jump, etc. (sorry to have to admit this)...but on the job, she is a behaver.

Q:  How much time does this take?
A: As much time as you are willling to give.  Practically any nursing facility, hospital, hospice, school (Wagging Tails is a separate program tutoring kids in reading), special care housing, assisted living, hospital or medical clinic is willing to entertain the idea of therapy dogs.

Q: What are my responsibilites in visiting with my dog?
A: Be open to the person you are visiting.  Remember that the visit is not about your and your dog, it is to meet the needs of the person whom you are visiting.  The person you are helping generally does not want to hear about your stories or life history.   The dog facilitates conversation and contact with the client, and helps to engage the client with distraction and productive time.

If you have any questions about how you might volunteer with your animal fur friends, feel free to contact Therapy Dogs International via email or call them at (973) 252-9800.

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