The Makings of a Therapy Dog

The Makings of a Therapy Dog

Every four-legged friend gives love and comfort to their owners. They provide affection when you need it most, a walking companion when you feel like taking a stroll in a winter wonderland, an eager and wagging tail at the end of a long day at work, and a snuggle on the couch when watching a Netflix marathon.

Yes, every pet (and, to be specific, every dog) is unique in its own way and greatly improves the mental health of its masters. But some dogs go the extra mile and train to be formal therapy dogs. Again, you could argue that every dog is a therapy dog on some level. But according to the American Kennel Club, therapy dogs are dogs that travel with their owners to volunteer in settings such as nursing homes, schools, and hospitals. While service dogs are specially trained to perform specific tasks to assist those with a disability, therapy dogs help improve the lives of others by doing things such as working with a child who is learning to read or visiting seniors, and providing companionship in assisted living.

But having your dog be a therapy dog isn’t as simple as walking into your neighborhood hospital, roaming the halls, and visiting patient rooms. There is formality and processes involved in officially making your dog a therapy dog.

Here are a few things to know about the makings of a therapy dog:

Take the AKC Canine Good Citizen Test

Some therapy groups require that your dog pass the Canine Good Citizen test before taking the group’s therapy test. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), this test is a great starting test for all potential therapy dogs. During testing, your dog will learn basic good manners (sit, stay, down, come) and will know how to respond to people and other dogs appropriately.

Understand Their Sociability

An ideal therapy dog will be friendly, outgoing, and confident. If your dog has a history of aggression or fears new people or new situations, it would not be an ideal therapy candidate. After all, your dog should enjoy visiting those it is serving just as much as its new friends should!

Make Sure They’re Healthy

VetStreet details how many therapy certifications require a physical from a veterinarian to screen for disease, illness, and even pain. You must also have a reliable record of vaccinations and parasite control for your dog, in addition to a fecal exam. Depending on the program, there may also be other health requirements, such as salmonella concerns if your dog eats a raw diet and how clean your pet is.

Meyer’s Tails Up Farm serves as a complete retreat for your beloved pet. From lodging to daily daycare, grooming to training, we offer various services designed to best help you grow a loving relationship with your dog. When it comes to caring for your best four-legged friends while you’re away, we pride ourselves in providing the ultimate in safety, cleanliness, and specialized attention. Perhaps that’s why we are the #1 choice for dog boarding in Chicago and Rockford!


Contact us today for more information on how we can help your dog be as happy and healthy as possible! Like us on Facebook to stay up-to-date on everything happening at Meyer’s Tail Up Farm.