What is a Therapy Dog?

April 13, 2022

What is a Therapy Dog?

A Therapy Dog (TD) is a canine trained to provide therapeutic intervention to people in clinical settings (e.g. psychologists, psychiatrists) or offer emotional support to multiple individuals in group settings within the community (students, nursing home residents, hospital patients).

Characteristics of Therapy Dogs

  • TDs support more than one person (strangers) but don’t live with strangers.
  • TDs can be handled by multiple people.
  • TDs are not required to perform specific tasks.
  • TDs must be human-affiliated, enjoy being touched/patted, and remain calm around people.
  • TDs should have no behavioural problems, such as human reactivity/aggression.
  • TD Handlers should hold public liability insurance and conduct a risk assessment for each facility they attend.

Access and Certification

No legislation requires TDs to be certified for public access; the facility will grant TD access.

Getting Started with Therapy Dog Training

To begin training your dog as a Therapy Dog, consider their age:

  • For dogs younger than nine months, contact me.
  • For dogs older than nine months, contact Therapy Dogs Australia, which offers three courses:
    • Introductory workshop
    • Clinical Course
    • Community Course

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