How To Get Your Dog To Be A Therapy Dog

As society becomes more aware of the benefits that therapy dogs can bring, there is an increasing demand for these gentle, loving animals. If you have a dog with a calm and friendly disposition, you might be considering training them to become a therapy dog. In this article, we will explore some helpful tips on how to get your dog to be a therapy dog.

What is a Therapy Dog?

A therapy dog is a canine that has been trained to provide comfort and support to people in need. These dogs are typically used in settings such as hospitals, nursing homes, and schools, where they can help ease anxiety and stress in those who are struggling with physical or mental health issues.

Therapy dogs are not the same as service dogs or emotional support animals. Service dogs are trained to perform specific tasks for individuals with disabilities, while emotional support animals provide companionship and comfort for people with mental health conditions.

Getting Started

Before you begin training your dog to become a therapy dog, it’s important to make sure they have the right temperament for the job. A good therapy dog should be calm, friendly, and comfortable around people of all ages and backgrounds.

If you’re not sure whether your dog has what it takes to be a therapy dog, consider working with a professional trainer or evaluator who specializes in this area. They can assess your dog’s temperament and behavior, and give you advice on whether therapy work is a good fit.

Training Your Dog

Once you’ve determined that your dog has the right temperament for therapy work, it’s time to start training them for their new role. Here are some key steps to follow:

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1. Basic Obedience Training: Before your dog can become a therapy dog, they need to have basic obedience skills such as sit, stay, come, and heel. These commands will help you control your dog in different situations and ensure that they behave appropriately around people.

2. Socialization: Therapy dogs need to be comfortable around all types of people, including children, seniors, and individuals with disabilities. Socializing your dog early on can help them develop confidence and ease around different groups of people.

3. Desensitization: Many therapy dogs work in busy, noisy environments such as hospitals or schools. To prepare your dog for this type of work, expose them to different sounds, smells, and sights so they can become desensitized to these distractions.

4. Specific Training: Depending on the type of therapy work you plan to do with your dog, you may need to train them for specific tasks such as visiting patients in hospitals or working with children in schools. Work with a professional trainer who has experience in this area to ensure that your dog is properly prepared.

5. Certification: Once your dog has completed their training, you will need to get them certified as a therapy dog. This typically involves passing a test that assesses their behavior and obedience skills.

Benefits of Therapy Dogs

There are many benefits to owning a therapy dog, both for the dog and their human companion. Here are just a few:

1. Reduced Stress: Studies have shown that spending time with animals can lower stress levels and reduce anxiety.

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2. Improved Physical Health: Therapy dogs can provide physical benefits too, such as lowering blood pressure and improving cardiovascular health.

3. Increased Socialization: For individuals who may be isolated or lonely, therapy dogs can provide a sense of companionship and socialization.

4. Sense of Purpose: Being a therapy dog can give your canine companion a sense of purpose and fulfillment, knowing that they are helping others in need.


Training your dog to become a therapy dog can be a rewarding experience for both you and your furry friend. With patience, dedication, and the right training techniques, you can help your dog become a valuable asset in your community by providing comfort and support to those in need.