What is a Therapy Dog?

blog blogs dog dogs national therapy animal day petland Petland Texas therapy animal therapy dog

Many dogs make loyal and affectionate companions to humans. They often express their respect and friendship without expecting anything in return. Some dogs are incredibly talented at showcasing their sweet personalities in a way that helps those in need. These wonderful dogs, known as therapy dogs, are trained animals that help provide emotional support to […]

Many dogs make loyal and affectionate companions to humans. They often express their respect and friendship without expecting anything in return. Some dogs are incredibly talented at showcasing their sweet personalities in a way that helps those in need. These wonderful dogs, known as therapy dogs, are trained animals that help provide emotional support to those with various mental or physical disabilities.

Therapy dogs typically live in people’s homes or visit different settings, including nursing homes, schools, and hospitals. They’re trained to be gentle and friendly towards other people, particularly with strangers. They must accept hugs and petting from everyone, no matter their age or how energetic they are. 

On National Therapy Animal Day, we want to celebrate our wonderful therapy dogs. Read on to learn more about how these beautiful animals help out our community!

What is the difference between therapy dogs and service dogs?

The term “service dog” refers to dogs who provide assistance with daily activities for their human companions. Although both animals have similar jobs, service dogs and therapy dogs are completely different in the ways they provide services for their owners. 

For instance, service dogs are trained to execute certain tasks for their owners. These include alerting deaf owners of sounds, pushing their owner’s wheelchairs, or lessening the effects of a psychiatric episode. Service dogs receive advanced, task-oriented training to help their owners with a wide variety of activities. The main purpose of a service dog is to help their disabled owners overcome their disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act categorizes service dogs as working animals, allowing them to accompany their owners in restricted public locations. 

Therapy dogs are often called “comfort dogs”—and for good reason. These animals provide emotional support to their owners and community. The attention and comfort they offer to humans is highly beneficial, especially for those with mental illnesses and physical disabilities. However, they’re not listed as service animals under the ADA. This means that therapy dogs do not share the same privileges as service dogs so they aren’t to accompany their owners in restricted areas. Most therapy dogs are granted permission before they can go to a public area or are invited to events for animal therapy. 

What kind of dogs can become therapy dogs?

Any dog with a good temperament can become a therapy dog. Of course, they will need specific training to help become further accustomed to being around strangers. While it’s true that a dog’s temperament depends on their breed, their puppy years are also huge indicators of whether they can become therapy dogs. Puppies raised in a healthy and loving environment usually grow up to be friendly dogs, regardless of who they meet.

There are many popular breeds that can become therapy dogs, including Golden Retrievers, Standard Poodles, Labrador Retrievers, and even small dogs like Pomeranians. 

It must be noted that a dog will be tested for their eligibility as a therapy dog. They will be observed for their reaction to several stimuli, such as loud noises, strangers approaching them, and equipment like canes.

How do therapy dogs boost a person’s health?

Therapy dogs are highly beneficial to those who suffer from various mental and physical challenges. People with PTSD, autism, Alzheimer’s disease, ADHD, depression, and bipolar disorder can find enjoyment and relief with a therapy dog by their side. 

Therapy dogs are also known to improve the health of those with physical disabilities or challenges. Experts show that patients recovering from extensive surgical treatment or accidents are more likely to heal when they’ve interacted with therapy animals. Other studies have shown that interacting with animals improves a person’s mood as it increases the levels of oxytocin, the happy hormone, and reduces cortisol. 

How do you get your own therapy dog?

Here’s some good news for dog lovers everywhere: anyone can have a therapy dog! If you or a loved one want a therapy dog in your life, search up “therapy dogs” online with the name of your city or town to find specific organizations that can help you. There are also various online groups that can direct you to the right organizations and information about therapy dogs. 

Your dog can also become a therapy dog through special training. If you would like your dog to become a therapy dog, just search training sessions online in your area. Be sure to include the name of your city and the state to find opportunities near you. Also, always ask what requirements each facility you plan to visit has for therapy dogs. 

Sometimes, we need a furry friend by our side to help us get through the toughest times in our lives. Therapy dogs are wonderful in the way they share their abundant love with others, giving patients the light they need to continue living a healthy life. National Therapy Animal Day continues to honor these beautiful and friendly companions, and other animals that help improve the lives of those in need!