You might be wondering, what type of dog is the best type of dog for therapy dog work? Could my dog be a therapy dog? Is there a special breed or size that is best? What about age? Or certification requirements?
Well, here are a few answers to your questions!
ANY breed of dog can be a therapy dog. Big dog, small dog, white dog, black dog, plump dog, skinny dog, six-pound dog, 180-pound dog. Here are a few indicators that your dog could be used for therapy:
Your dog is calm.
Your dog is gentle.
Your dog doesn’t mind getting tripped on. Especially by six-year-olds!
Your dog likes seniors, kids, and just about everyone.
Your dog likes to follow directions.
Your dog loves treats. Especially when girl scouts make them for you!
Your dog likes other dogs.
Your dog can share bowls.
Your dog listens.
Your dog smiles.
Your dog can ride in an elevator.
Your dog is happy.
Your dog is at least 1 year old.
Your dog is patient.
Your dog is kind.
Your dog doesn’t mind snuggles and hugs.
Your dog passes a certification test meaning:
Your dog can sit, politely.
Your dog can stay.
Your dog can heel.
Your dog can turn.
Your dog can lay down.
Your dog comes when called.
Your dog can “leave it”.
Your dog does not pull on the leash.
Your dog can handle meeting new people and accepts strangers.
Your dog can handle a crowd.
Your dog can be calm with loud strange noises or distractions.
Your dog can down/stay.
Your dog doesn’t jump on people.
Your dog likes to be touched.
Your dog doesn’t mind grooming.
Your dog can remain calm around medical equipment, like: canes, wheelchairs, scooters.
Finally, your dog is ok with being left alone with another person for a short period of time, called “supervised separation.”
And YOU must be able to do ALL these things too!
If these sound like things that you and your dog can do or be trained to do in a matter of weeks, then being a Therapy Dog Team sounds like the RIGHT thing for you! If you are interested in volunteering with or getting certified through MAST, please check out this page for more info or call our program director for an interview at: 847.772.5000
Hope to see you on rounds someday!