The Life of a Therapy Dog
What is a Therapy Dog? As we explored in a previous post, Training Your Dog to Be a “Canine Good Citizen,” with the appropriate training, almost any dog can become a therapy dog. Therapy dogs are those who, with their owners, visit hospitals, special needs centers, schools and nursing homes to provide emotional support and cheer to people with all sorts of different needs. If you are thinking of becoming a therapy dog team with your pooch, it is first important to ensure that you have the appropriate Dog Bite Liability Coverage. Remember, even the friendliest most predictable dog can cause an injury, even if unintended. You, the dog owner, will be held responsible in this case.
When it comes to nursing homes, a common source of frustration and depression amongst residents is the loss of their own pet when they entered the facility. Therapy dog teams address their need for animal interaction. Pet visitation programs, often offered through your local SPCA, have been shown to have the following effects on elderly nursing home residents:
- Decreased aggressive behavior
- Increased physical and social activity
- Opportunity for positive nonverbal communication
- Relief of depression and/or disorientation
- And more…
Nursing home residents are not the only individuals who benefit from therapy dogs; special needs adults and children, such as those with autism or other developmental delays are able to connect with animals in an incredible way. Some parents and other loved ones even state that just an hourly visit with a therapy dog keeps their developmentally challenged child calmer and happier for days.
While the desire to become part of a therapy dog team is admirable, it is important to remember that there is significant training and commitment involved. Also, not every pet is suited for therapy work; some may snap if startled by something such as a walker falling or a child yelling, while others could have shy, nervous temperaments. Most therapy dog programs will have a “practice evaluation” where you take your dog through different scenarios. At that time, the evaluator can give you a better idea on whether you and your dog are a good fit for the organization or not.
At Federation of Insured Dog Owners (F.I.D.O) we understand the loving bond between dogs and their owners, and the desire to share that connection with those in need. It’s important to remember that accidents can and do still occur, so having the right insurance policy in place is imperative. To learn more about our product and the states that we serve, please contact us today at (855) 534-6495.