What is a Therapy Dog?

What is a Therapy Dog? And the Powerful Impact of Therapy Dogs!

Therapy dogs are specially trained dogs that provide emotional support and comfort to people in various settings such as hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and disaster areas.

They do not have the same legal rights and privileges as service dogs and are not trained to perform specific tasks for individuals with disabilities. However, these dogs are trained to interact with people in a friendly and non-invasive manner, helping to reduce stress and anxiety, boost morale, and provide a sense of calm and comfort.  We have trained many certified therapy dogs through the years!  We have dogs working in hospitals and schools all over the country.  We even have two of our dogs working in a school in Hong Kong. 

The history of therapy dogs can be traced back to the late 1800s when a nurse named Florence Nightingale noticed the therapeutic benefits of animals in the treatment of patients with mental health issues, she commented that “a small pet is often an excellent companion for the sick, for long chronic cases especially.” In the 1930s, dogs were first used in hospitals to help improve the morale of patients. Today, therapy dogs are used in a wide range of settings to provide emotional support and comfort to people in need.

To become a therapy dog, there are certain requirements that must be met.

The dog must have a friendly and calm temperament, be well-behaved, and be comfortable around people of all ages and backgrounds. They must also be trained in basic obedience commands and be able to follow the commands of their handler. Additionally, therapy dogs must be in good physical health and be up-to-date on all their vaccinations. They should also be regularly groomed and have a clean bill of health from a veterinarian.

Therapy dogs undergo specialized training to prepare them for their work. They are trained to remain calm and relaxed in various situations, including around medical equipment, crowds, and loud noises, food distractions and more. They are also trained to interact with people in a gentle and friendly manner and to respond to the needs of the people they are helping. If you’re interested in certifying your dog as a therapy dog, there are several organizations that can help. These organizations typically evaluate dogs for their temperament, obedience, and ability to interact with people in a calm and gentle manner. Therapy Dogs International (TDI), Alliance of Therapy Dogs (ATD), and Pet Partners are just a few of the organizations that offer certification for therapy dogs.

At Aly’s Puppy Boot Camp,

we understand the importance of selecting the right puppy to become a therapy dog. In fact, it’s one of our passions! We believe that temperament testing puppies for this kind of work is our superpower, and we take great pride in identifying the perfect candidate for this important job. We have some FANTASTIC Therapy Dogs for Sale Candidates!

When it comes to selecting a puppy for therapy dog work, we’re looking for a specific set of qualities that are essential for success.

Qualities to look for in a puppy for therapy dog work:

  • High pack drive: a dog that is eager to please and willing to work alongside their human handler
  • Friendly and engaged: able to handle unexpected loud noises or startling events with ease and bounce back quickly, while looking to their handler for guidance
  • Desire for touch from humans: a puppy that seeks out affection and enjoys being petted and handled is more likely to excel in a therapy dog role

With the right training and socialization, a well-suited puppy can become a beloved therapy dog, providing emotional support and comfort to those in need.

We take great care in selecting and training therapy dog puppies, and we believe that our approach leads to happy, healthy, and successful therapy dogs. Make sure to check out our Trained Dogs for Sale to see some of our current Puppies in Training!

Here is what I’ve personally witnessed thousands of times, the right dog can have a PROFOUND improvement in a hurting heart, body and mind, as people navigate physical pain, trauma and anxiety in their life.  Nothing takes pain, trauma and anxiety away, nothing erases it completely, but the right dog can most certainly ease that burden. I don’t know how or why it works exactly, I just know it does. Regardless of where you stand on a personal faith level, Dog spelled backwards, says God.  Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think dogs are God, but something about their nature, their unconditional love, their willingness to sacrifice for us, their ability to shoulder some of our burdens gives us a peek into what I believe the nature of God is.  Again, regardless of where you personally stand on these issues, dogs have a unique way of inspiring some of the best qualities in us.

My personal favorite story of working with my certified therapy dog, Kozi, is from years ago. I went to the nursing home for nuns in our local town. There are only a few nursing homes remaining in the state that care for the amazing women whose lives were spent serving others; now, it was our turn to serve them. I would go a couple of times each month with Kozi and the nuns would have a chance to pet him, talk to him or ignore him if they wished.  Each visit this one nun would see us walk by, kind of nod her head, but she clearly did not want to interact. No problem, I’d smile and walk on by.  Finally, on one of our visits, she waved for us to come in. We did. I asked her if she’d like Kozi to get closer for a pet. Well, out of nowhere she suddenly said, “Get up here boy!” and Kozi looked at me, and I said “OK!”, and promptly Kozi leaped up, but very gently, like a Kangaroo landing on porcelain that he didn’t want to break, and into her lap he went. This was strange because Kozi, though a wonderful therapy dog, was not that forward in his personality, he’d always be willing to come for a nice pet, but is not the kind of dog that wants to be in your pocket.  The nun’s sheer joy as she nuzzled Kozi was like a young child’s when they see the ocean for the first time or have an ice cream cone for the first time! It was BIG JOY! She obviously loved this dog, and I asked her why she hadn’t had us come by before, and she said something like her joy was focused on heavenly things, and now she realized God put these little creatures here to share the joy of heavenly things here on earth. I was so moved by her insight.  I carry those thoughts with me still today. I’m always drawn to this quote from Nobel prize in literature winner, Anatole France, Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”


Works Cited:

Halm, M. A. (2008). The Healing Power of the Human-Animal Connection. Am J Crit Care, 17(4), 373-376. doi:10.4037/ajcc2008.17.4.373


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