What Makes a Therapy Dog

What Makes a Therapy Dog?

Therapy dogs are incredible canines that are able to help people work through their emotions, anxieties, and so much more by just soothing and allowing themselves to be petted.  Animals have a healing energy that helps us release serotonin, which can immediately begin to soothe symptoms of dozens of ailments.

If you’re curious about getting a therapy dog or wondering if your dog could qualify as one, these are the top things to keep in mind.

Friendly and Well Tempered

A therapy dog needs to be friendly and well-tempered.  This means being patient with people who may be irritable or upset or being able to handle just sitting beside someone who simply needs that support at the moment. 

Dogs that are reactive or that get upset when they’re being handled aren’t a good choice for this since they’re more likely to get stressed and stress out the person they’re supposed to be helping.

Obedient and Trainable

An obedient and trainable dog is one of the best choices for a therapy dog.  These are dogs that take instruction well, are quick to learn and figure out what you want them to do, and are patient as you teach them.

If your dog is loveable but doesn’t listen when you tell it to sit or stop what it’s doing: it’s not going to make a great therapy dog.  Sometimes the most important thing a dog can know is to “sit” or “heal” when the time calls for it.

Capable of Being Handled By Unfamiliar People

Being friendly around strangers is a must for a therapy dog that might interact with other people.  This isn’t as important for a one-person therapy animal, but if you want them to be a therapy animal for hospitals or care facilities, it’s important for them to be comfortable and easygoing around people you don’t know. 

The Ability to Read Social Cues

Although a dog won’t understand what grief support is, they can often sense the feelings you’re experiencing while going through it.  Pet therapy helps by giving you something to focus your anxious or depressed energy on rather than the negative feelings you’re experiencing.

A good therapy dog can anticipate your needs and understand what cues happen before you need their assistance.  This will let them help you before you even realize you need their support. 

Eager to Cuddle and Soothe

An important feature in any therapy dog is that it has to love human affection and be eager to cuddle and soothe anyone who needs it.  Of course, it shouldn’t start cuddling anyone who doesn’t want it there, but this dog should be able to instantly cozy up to anyone it’s supposed to cuddle with.  If your dog is resistant to human contact besides yours, it may be a one-person therapy pet. 

Therapy Dogs are Life Changers

Therapy dogs give people the chance to relax and catch a fresh breath of air while working through their feelings.  If you’re considering signing your dog up to be a therapy dog, or you’re seeking one out for therapy, make sure it has these abilities.

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