Sunday, May 11, 2008

Labradors as therapy dogs

I received this from Dr. Stacy Nelson. Her Tweedle is shown here with her Tester/Observer at her 3rd Pet Therapy Visit in Miami. She is now eligible for Registration as a Pet Therapy Dog.

Labradors make great therapy dogs because of their gentle temperament. Therapy dogs visit nursing home residents and emotionally disturbed children. It has been shown that therapy dogs have a positive benefit in the healing process. They often help people cope with their illness and are stress relievers. They also offer physical contact to someone who is lonely and needing such contact.

Therapy dogs must be obedience trained and have proven to be gentle and outgoing. Labradors love people and to be around them so they are especially good at being therapy dogs. It's often best to wait until a Labrador is out of the young adult stage though because a therapy dog must be calm.

Therapy dogs must be observed and be determined to be:

Social and interactive with people they are visiting. They must enjoy being petted and hugged. The dog should be accustomed to people on crutches, canes and wheelchairs.

A therapy dog must be protected with vaccine against rabies and have all its annual shots up to date. It will be necessary to provide proof of immunization in order to qualify as a therapy dog.

Therapy dogs must be at least one year of age and have a Canine Good Citizen Certificate. A therapy dog must be used to strange noises and it would be helpful if the dog knows a few simple tricks, such as shake hands, in order to entertain the patients.

It's a great feeling to bring your dog into a home and put a smile on someone's face. I hope that you will look into having your dog certified as a therapy dog.


Anonymous said...

It is not necessary, although an asset, to have a Canine Good Citizenship on your labrador to do therapy work. Tricks are kept to a minimum in most nursing home settings due to flooring, patients in beds or wheelchairs.

Shadow said...

i agree about dogs being therapeutic. i feel it from mine every day, and they're not 'trained' for anything. loving comes naturally.

Anonymous said...

My lab became a therapy dog as soon as he was old enough to be certified, 1 year. Although labs can be hyper as pups, good exercise and discipline allow for great behavior when being calm is expected. Also, some other therapy dogs on our team were not formally trained. They just had to be able to pass the test. My dog has been a "pet therapist" now for several years. I think he likes it more than the patients do. A lab does love attention. We visit several places a week and if I could fit more into my schedule I would.

We do keep our tricks to a minimum because patient interaction is key.