Trouwe Hond K-9
Professional Dog Training Service
Dogs are quite often used in therapy. Typically this involves visiting hospitals, care facilities, nursing homes, etc. to cheer up patients. There are a variety of groups that train therapy dogs, some local and some national. Some use the AKC Canine Good Citizen test to choose suitable dogs, others have devised their own Temperament Tests. You should note that therapy dogs ARE NOT considered BY LAW in the United States to have the same status as SERVICE DOGS. Service dogs directly assist their handicapped owners with daily tasks in some fashion; therapy dogs are handled by their owners to assist others at specific times, such as visits to a facility. Thus laws mandating access for service dogs, who must accompany their owners do not apply to dogs who need not be with their owners at all times but rather work at specific locations.
A therapy dog is a dog trained to provide affection and comfort to people in hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, schools, with people with learning difficulties and stressful situations such as disaster areas. Therapy dogs come in all sizes and breeds. The most important characteristic of a therapy dog is its temperament. A good therapy dog must be friendly, patient, confident, at ease in all situations, and gentle. Therapy dogs must enjoy human contact and be content to be petted and handled, sometimes clumsily.
A therapy dog's primary job is to allow unfamiliar people to make physical contact with it and to enjoy that contact. Children in particular enjoy hugging animals; adults usually enjoy simply petting the dog. The dog might need to be lifted onto, or climb onto, an invalid's lap or bed and sit or lie comfortably there. Many dogs contribute to the visiting experience by performing small tricks for their audiences or by playing carefully structured games.
A therapy dog requires different training than a service dog for the disabled. A therapy dog's goal is to offer comfort and companionship to patients in hospitals, nursing homes, mental centers; or visit libraries and schools to "listen" to young children read. In addition to basic obedience training, therapy dogs need special training to pass the AKC Canine Good CitizenŽ Certificate Test (CGC) and Therapy Dog International requirements before entering a therapy dog program. Read on to learn how to train a therapy dog.
A Therapy Dog is born, not made. Yes, one can teach
a dog mannerly behavior, but one cannot change a dog's inherent
temperament. When a dog is put under stress, poor or marginal
temperament will surface. Therefore: What are we looking for?
A Therapy Dog must have an outstanding temperament. This means that the dog should be outgoing and friendly to all people; men, women, and children. The dog should be tolerant of other dogs (of both genders) and non-aggressive toward other pets. Before you consider having your dog evaluated, you should ask yourself if your dog has these qualities.
A service dog is a type of assistance dog, specifically trained to help people who have disabilities other than visual or hearing impairment, or medical response dogs. Service dogs do not have to have pedigrees: desirable character traits, good conformation, and good health are more important. Service dogs are sometimes trained and bred by private organizations. In other cases, a disabled handler may train their own dog with or without the aid of a private dog trainer. It is preferable to call such a dog a "service dog" rather than an "assistance dog."
The Americans with Disabilities Act (1990) defines "service dog" under its broader definition of "service animal". "Service Animal" (ADA Subsection 36.104): "Any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including, but not limited to, guiding people with impaired vision, alerting people with impaired hearing to intruders or sounds, providing minimal protection or rescue work, pulling a wheelchair, or fetching dropped items."
Please note that while legally speaking, therapy dogs are NOT "service dogs" and NOT entitled to the same benefits that service dogs are (entrance to any public building or transportation), I have included them in this document as a related function for dogs. As you read this, please keep in mind that according to the American Disabilities Act (federal) any dog assisting a person with a disability is considered a service dog (exclusive of therapy dogs). Service dogs are entitled to freely access buildings and transportation (buses, trains, planes). Proof or certification is not required although many organizations that train service dogs give their handlers some sort of ID for their dog.
For More information from the US Department of Justice Civil Rights Division http://www.ada.gov/qasrvc.htm