Is Your Dog Cut Out to be a Therapy Dog?

Why do certain canines make great therapy dogs? A recent study shows that it could be because they truly enjoy what they are doing and they get as much out of the interaction as the people they work with. With the growing number of therapy dogs in service, many people wonder if their pet would qualify as a provider. How can you know if your dog is up for the job? There are a few clues that signal which dogs are more inclined to be good therapy dogs.

How does your job handle stress?

Research into the question about what makes one dog more suitable for therapeutic work than another has produced some interesting results. Observers noted that 26 dogs involved in a study showed no stress when placed in the stressful and somber environment of a pediatric cancer ward. The therapy dogs were happy to be of service and didn’t seem the least bit affected. They were happy too interact with the patients. Working with people who are in poor health didn’t have any type of negative impact on the dogs involved in the study. Researchers tested the dogs through direct observation and saliva samples to check the levels of stress hormones that were being produced. Samples taken before work were used as a baseline and more gathered about 20 minutes after the job was done showed no sign of stress in any of the dogs.

How Physical cues from the dogs stacked up

The behavior of the dogs showed no telltale signs of stress. There was no lip licking or other obvious signs of nervousness. Instead, there was tail wagging and an eagerness to interact. The handlers of each dog completed report forms that detailed the activities of the dogs during the sessions that lasted for between 15 and 20 minutes each. What was amazing is that each dog in the study seemed to genuinely enjoy what they were doing.

Conclusions from a canine expert

Dogs who are kept busy doing things they enjoy are healthier and happier. When a dog is trained for a particular task, then they are the happiest when they are being productive. It gives them purpose and a dog that is socially inclined is happy when they get to spend time with people.

Which dogs are best suited for therapy?

Nearly any dog breed can work in this capacity, but not all are suited for specialized therapies. If your dog is a small guy, he’s not the best candidate for helping out the disabled by virtue of his size, but he can make a wonderful companion. Larger dogs are better suited for work that requires physical exertion. The type of task that is required for the dog to perform has a lot to do with whether or not an individual canine is suited for the job. Any well trained dog with good social skills can brighten the day of a person by simply spending time with them.

Types of dog therapy jobs

Some therapy dogs are used to visit with a person who has gone through a traumatic experience or is ill or emotionally disturbed. Dogs who perform short term visits need only have the personality and temperament that makes them a joy to be around. Size and physical stamina are not required, but training is.

Heavy duty therapy work

The dogs that live in the same quarters with people prone to seizures or other health issues must be a special type. They must have a keep sense of smell, a sharp alertness to detect blood sugar problems or seizures among other things. Their jobs are more intense than the occasional visitor therapy dog. Dogs who work with people who are sight impaired must be highly intelligent and able to make decisions about safety to keep their owners from harm.

People lovers

Some dogs aren’t as in tune with humans as others, by virtue of the individual personality and preferences of the dog. If your dog loves people and enjoys making new acquaintances, then he or she may be a good candidate for the job of therapy dog. Those who are nervous, easily agitated or loners just don’t fit the criteria. Does your dog have what it takes to be a therapy dog?


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