Animals play such a huge role in our lives and help us in many different ways. Research shows that pets have a positive impact on an ill or traumatized person’s well-being. What’s better than puppy kisses and kitten cuddles?! Therapy animals are used to provide affection and comfort to those in need. These animals pay visits to nursing homes, hospitals, those with disabilities, and many others. Therapy animals are most commonly dogs, however, they come in all shapes and sizes! More and more animals are being trained including cats, horses, bunnies, and birds. If you are interested in having your pet become a therapy animal, read the below information on how to do so and the training process.
Is Your Animal a Good Candidate?
Therapy animals must be calm, affectionate, and of course friendly! In addition, they must be healthy, have regular checkups and vaccinations, and be well groomed. Plus, therapy animals are only half of the equation. First and foremost, to do their job, these animals must have a responsible caregiver that advocates it’s well-being at all times.
Learning The Basics
Animals must be house trained to become a therapy animal. Before starting the training, dogs specifically must know the basic commands such as sit, stay, come, etc. Bring your pet to new places with different sounds and new people to get them acclimated. Check to see if there are any training classes in your area.
Now that you and your animal are ready, a test will be conducted by an observer in your area to be certified. A typical test will evaluate how well your pet listens to you, how they react around other animals and humans, and how they are around strange noises. Cats do not require certification, but as for dogs, the American Kennel Club has a list of therapy dog organizations here.
Before your first official visit, have friends and family come to your home to practice. Once he or she is ready, you can begin visits to participating organizations. These first couple of visits will most likely be observed by your certifying organization until you are authorized to make independent visits.
Becoming a therapy team (pet and handler) is very rewarding work! If you have any further questions, we’re happy to help! Give us a call at (843) 795-7574!