You probably know that training a service dog requires consistent work and patience. The dog must be an appropriate breed, in excellent health, extensively trained, and more. What about a therapy dog? While people must not interfere with a service dog in training in any way so that it can learn to avoid distractions when serving its owner, therapy dogs are meant to provide comfort in times of great physical or emotional stress. Some dogs are better suited to this–more easily trained for it.
Training and Certification
The requirements for an animal to be designated as a therapy dog are more strict than people may realize; you cannot simply decide a pet is a therapy animal and have it be recognized as such, legally. Your pet must be approved with appropriate certification and registration. Both large and small breeds can make great therapy dogs.
Small Therapy Dogs
In the small dog category, the Beagle is an intelligent and friendly hound that can be easily trained to serve as support. Their strong sense of smell can even come in handy. The Welsh Corgi is also very intelligent, and it was originally bred to serve. The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel is also a great service dog that was bred as a calm companion. Very small dogs, like the Pomeranian, are great; but, remember that they are energetic and need to burn off that energy.
Large Therapy Dogs
When it comes to large dogs, the more calm and intelligent they are, the better. The Saint Bernard is well-known for being naturally adept at serving human owners; they’re generally big, calm, cuddling dogs. Labradors have the same qualities, though they are sometimes more energetic. Dogs known for herding sheep historically, like Border Collies and Sheepdogs, are also intelligent enough to be trained for many kinds of service.
These dogs, and many more, can be helpful not only to those who struggle physically, but those who struggle mentally, as well. People with depression, anxiety, severe mental illnesses, and more can benefit from well-trained therapy dogs. They can bring medication to an owner during an episode, trigger an alert for medical services, and be of general comfort during something like an anxiety attack.
The key to a good, and legally-approved therapy dog is excellent, professional training. It must be consistent, and the trainer experienced. Before determining what sort of dog you want or need, and using that animal for therapy, you must research the requirements to make this happen.
At Pet Vet Hospitals, we’re happy help you, too. We will be there for you and your dog, helping keep him healthy so you can rely on him for years to come.