How Dogs Become Therapy Dogs
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How Dogs Become Therapy Dogs

January 19, 2023 7 min read

How Dogs Become Therapy Dogs

Many people have a love/hate relationship with dogs. They either get attached to them or they are overwhelmed by their energy and need. Some even feel threatened by canines due to past experiences that were scary, negative or both.

Many individuals who want more out of their lives choose to have a dog as a companion. While some owners succeed in making their canine friend behave like a calm and relaxed being for an hour every day, this is only because those humans work hard to teach their dog what behaviors are acceptable and not-acceptable.

Some dogs are naturally friendly and willing to connect with other beings, but it takes a lot of work to develop this quality in your dog. However, there are ways you can use your dog’s natural socialization skills to his advantage.

A well trained therapy dog is very valuable. These dogs are selected specifically so that they will be able to interact with others and help promote mental wellness. There are many different types of therapies that these dogs can perform, and most require less than 10 minutes per session!

If you wish to add some pooch to your life that will leave a lasting positive effect on you and your loved ones, then consider whether or not training your dog as a therapy animal is for him. You may also want to check out our article about why having a pet is good for your health.

Find a local organization

how dogs become therapy dogs

Finding a dog that wants to be trained as a therapy dog is not easy, but it’s definitely doable if you know what to look for. Before bringing home your new friend, make sure their license, vaccinations, and health clear up are all good!

Next, research potential organizations in your area where a canine student can learn how to work with people of all ages and backgrounds. Many schools offer certification programs for dogs who want to help others so check out those too!

In addition to socialization, there are several different behaviors such as walker training or basic commands like sit, stay, and come, which most puppies already have at this stage.

Once you find the right fit, don’t forget to give both yourself and the pooch a chance! Training any animal takes time and effort, even a puppy, but they will always remember their experiences here.

Talk to your doctor

how dogs become therapy dogs

While there is no official certification for being a dog therapy professional, most major organizations that certify professionals require at least one year of formal training in animal behavior or psychiatry with a degree program. That means you can start looking into these programs now!

There are also some courses that offer an associate’s degree in canine psychology or veterinary mental health which may be less expensive than a bachelor’s degree but still provide great opportunities for career growth.

You do not need to have a dog yourself to become a certified therapist, as many people learn this. All you need to love animals and understand how they work is enough! Many trained dogs already exist who find their job through word-of-mouth alone.

Make a list of your traits

how dogs become therapy dogs

Many people are drawn to dogs because they recognize some of their behaviors as similar to theirs. If you ever feel like giving up due to dog ownership, then consider what types of behavior you show towards other people and apply those to a puppy!

Many people become pet owners because they subconsciously perceive that these animals need help understanding how to socialize and interact with others.

Dogs that do not know how to behave in public often suffer from this. They may be insecure or nervous around new people which can sometimes lead to them being rejected through lack of socialization.

Some individuals develop relationships with certain dogs after meeting them during a walk or run, and thus begin training as a professional dog walking company. Others find themselves wishing to adopt a dog but unable to due to financial limitations.

Luckily, there is an easy way to determine if a young dog needs more training before becoming a fully-fledged therapy animal – by looking at their behavioral patterns.

By observing his or her reactions to different situations, you will be able to tell whether they are socially adequate and if they require any additional work. This also gives you an opportunity to decide if this particular pup is worth investing time into for a career change.

Practice doing things that inspire you

how dogs become therapy dogs

Since dogs already have lots of natural behaviors like walking, chasing, barking, and looking around, they can begin to try applying those to other situations.

Practicing these basic dog skills is an excellent way to pick up some doggy tricks. You may also want to consider becoming a certified canine behavior professional or licensed veterinary technician so that you know how to manage behavioral issues in pets!

By using the right strategies, we can teach almost any breed or size dog many different tricks. Even if a particular trick seems impossible, there’s always someone out there who has succeeded with it!

It is very rewarding to see your dog earn his title as “trick of the month.” Not only does he show off his clever side, but he feels good about himself too.

Not only are there large rewards for training dogs, but there are likewise social benefits. Having a dog that knows some cool tricks makes people admire him/her and give him/her attention.

Research organizations

how dogs become therapy dogs

There are many different research organization that certify dogs as being a good candidate to be trained as a therapy dog. Some of these organizations have conditions that a potential student must meet before they can take the certification test, while others are simply looking for any kind of friendly interaction with other people.

Some require students to live with the pet for at least six months which gives them an opportunity to see how the animal interacts with others and if it is socially intelligent. Students who pass this requirement then go through several tests with various groups of people in order to determine if the dog will make a good fit as a service canine.

The most important thing when choosing which organization to study under is finding one that has clear guidelines and examples about what qualities a successful service dog should have.

Prepare a resume

how dogs become therapy dogs

Finding a job as a therapy dog requires more than just being friendly with dogs. You will need to show proof of your leadership skills, communication expertise, time management skills, and motivation.

Therapy dogs are trained to work for various organizations and agencies that offer their services to people in hospitals, public venues, or private settings. A prospective employer can check whether you have what it takes by looking at your resumé or personal profile on social media sites like LinkedIn.

You can use those resources to demonstrate your qualities as a leader, professional, and friend. For example, posting pictures and videos of yourself interacting with others is a great way to highlight your interpersonal skills.

Showing off your kindness towards other people is an excellent way to advertise your compassion. Yours could be for someone else’s benefit, such as training a service dog or helping promote mental wellness through canine companionship.

Approach organizations


Many trained dog professionals begin their career with an internship or volunteer position at an organization that trains dogs as service animals. These positions are not only to assess whether you have what it takes to work with dogs, but they also give you the opportunity to learn more about how to run a successful program!

There are many different types of organizations that offer these opportunities. Some may focus exclusively on canines, while others may allow both canine and feline students.

Some may even require one species over another. For example, some programs will teach you how to train a puppy, but then you must use your student for a specific amount of time before switching things up and teaching them to meet new owners!

It is important to be aware of this when deciding where to apply for a position. Make sure to do some research and find out if any potential employers are trustworthy. You want to make sure your future job does not hurt or harm anyone!

Furthermore, look into the type of training the organization offers. Certain classes may be more practical than others so check out each facility’s set list to determine which ones are needed in your area.

Get your license

how dogs become therapy dogs

Before you can work as a therapy dog, you must be licensed to do so! Licensed dogs are not allowed to enter public areas or hospitals unless they have completed a training program that requires at least two weeks of full-time work per week. This means that you will need to find an organization that sponsors licensed therapy dog teams to ensure that your pup gets the right amount of practice time every week!

There is no minimum age to become a registered therapy animal but most organizations require candidates to be at least one year old and potty trained. An important part of being a successful therapy dog is taking good care of yourself; therefore, it is important to know how to take proper care of your pet so that you don’t end up sick due to lack of sleep and nutrition.

Your puppy should come with their own crate and bed so that when they are taken off leash for a walk or visit they can rest properly. Most trainers recommend only using covers for beds since puppies who are young enough may get tired and want to play instead of sleeping which could cause them to urinate or defecate in the bedding.

Cindy PetsForLife
Cindy PetsForLife

Hello, I'm Cindy, the founder of PetsForLife. I am a true animal lover with 3 cats and 1 dog of my own. My passion for all things pets has led me to create a unique collection of personalized pet gifts. Check out our personalized pet gifts on our website.


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