Dogs have an instinctive way of knowing when they are needed, and a visit from a dog can calm and soothe someone, or lift the spirits of a person who is sad and lonely. The dogs provide a physical touch and many love the feeling of soft fur. They also bring warmth, joy, and a patient ear that will always listen.
Some believe only a certain breed can become a therapy dog, or that they are raised for this purpose as puppies. Therapy dogs come in all breeds and sizes, and many are rescue dogs.
If you're interested in doing therapy work with your dog, start by training some basic obedience, and bring your dog to many different environments so he or she gets used to noises and people. Then, find a therapy-dog organization in your area. Many states have animal-assisted therapy organizations that offer training programs.
To become a certified therapy dog, a trainer will evaluate you and your dog and suggest courses to take. Then, you're ready to volunteer. Many organizations will help you find volunteer opportunities. Here is a list that can help you get started.
~ Maria Sadowski ~