Therapy Dogs: Part 1 of 2

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A “therapy dog” is broadly defined as a dog trained to provide comfort and assistance to people with physical or mental illnesses, elderly people, victims of natural disasters, etc. There are 3 categories of therapy dogs:

  • Therapeutic visitation dogs – these dogs visit hospitals, detention facilities, and rehabilitation facilities to lift the spirits of and motivate people who have to be away from home
  • Assisted animal therapy – assist physical and occupational therapists in meeting important recovery goals, such as the development of fine motor skills.
  • Facility therapy dogs – tend to reside in nursing homes and are trained to help patients with mental illness. They will usually live at the facility and are trained by the staff.

The first therapy dog was purportedly named Smoky. Smoky provided companionship to wounded soldiers during WWII. Since then, the visibility and usage of therapy dogs has been expanding.
What traits are necessary in a therapy dog? What kind of training do therapy dogs undergo? And finally, how helpful are therapy dogs to the people they are trained to help? Come back to our blog on Sunday to find out!
Works cited:
“History of the Therapy Dog.” Therapy Dog Certification. Web. 12 March 2014.
“What is a Therapy Dog?” Therapy dogs of Vermont. Web. 12 March 2014.