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How to Train a Therapy Dog

The world is a stressful place, and we need to focus on coping with this stress. Dogs can be an essential part of our mental wellness, especially therapy dogs. Do you want to know how to train a therapy dog? You will know about it all here.

Training your new puppy takes a lot of time and patience. The first step when training a puppy is teaching them how to be obedient –obedience training. Which means following basic commands like sit, stay, come, and down. A therapy dog must be calm and have a good temperament. They should not be easily excitable or aggressive.

Have you ever wanted to be able to give back in such a way?

To have your love for animals put into action?

This blog will take you through everything from easy puppy training tips, tricks of the trade, and even some exercises for those days when your furry friend just can’t keep up their energy levels. So, join me in this journey!  

First, we need to understand what a therapy dog is.

What is a Therapy Dog?

Therapy dogs help people by providing them with unconditional love and companionship in times of need. Therapy dogs are special dogs that help people with their needs and make them feel better. Not only does this make the person’s life easier, but it makes the dog’s owner happy as well.  

Some people confuse a therapy dog with a service dog. So, let’s get that out of the way first thing.

How to Train a Therapy Dog

A Service Dog is Different than a Therapy Dog

Service dogs are trained to perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with disabilities that usually require special equipment, such as a cane or wheelchair. Training a puppy for service differs quite a lot from therapy dogs. Therapy dogs do not have special training and therefore cannot be considered Service Animals under Title II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

The Benefits of Owning a Therapy Dog

There are many benefits of dog training, which is why their popularity has been on the rise in recent years. Some of these benefits include:

  • Therapy dogs provide us with unconditional love and companionship, which can be especially helpful for those who live alone or have few social interactions outside of work.
  • Therapy dogs help reduce stress and anxiety, which can help people get through difficult periods in life.
  • Therapy dogs provide friendship and comfort to hospital patients, nursing home residents, shut-ins (people who are socially isolated or cannot leave their homes), etc.
  • Therapy dogs reduce the costs of medical care by decreasing patients’ need for medications.
  • Therapy dogs provide individuals with a sense of purpose and accomplishment, which can help them lead more fulfilled lives.

And all of this helps improve our quality of life by improving morale and making us feel more secure.

Is Your Home Safe for Bringing Pets in Your Life?

Hoping that you have a better understanding of therapy dogs now, it’s time to make sure your home is ready for a new member. Because a dog needs training before becoming a therapy dog, your family members should be ready for this dog behavior training at home.  

Here are some tips for you and your family on how to prepare for a therapy dog:

  • Make sure everyone in the house agrees with getting a dog into the household. Pets are a lifetime responsibility and should not be taken lightly.
  • Dog proof your home by putting away any dangerous chemicals or objects that the dog could get into.
  • Bring in a professional to help you identify any areas of your home where the dog might escape from or be injured.
  • Have designated rooms for the dog, such as a bedroom or an enclosed yard.
  • If you have small children, make sure they know how to play with the dog and not get too rough (you don’t want them breaking bones!).

How Do You Determine If Your Dog Has What It Takes to Be A Therapy Dog?

To be a therapy dog, your furry friend must meet the following requirements:

  • The dog must be friendly and have a good temperament. A dog in trainingshould not be easily excitable or aggressive.
  • The dog being trainedmust be calm and have a low energy level. For example, a therapy dog cannot constantly be running around.  
  • The dog must be housebroken and know basic commands such as sit, stay, come, etc.
  • The dog must be up to date on all of its shots and vaccinations.

If your dog meets these requirements, you can now question, “how does dog training work?”

How to Train a Therapy Dog

The Process of Training a Therapy Dog

Is training a dog easy? Not at all!

Training a therapy dog is not easy. Try to get this:

What do you get when you cross a full-time job, weekend volunteer work at nursing homes and hospitals, and a never-ending supply of energy?

A therapy dog in training!

It takes dedication, time, and lots of patience to get your furry friend up to speed.

That said, it’s definitely worth all the effort when you see your dog bring a smile to somebody’s face or help them feel more relaxed.

There are many different ways to train a dog, but the most common is through good obedience training. 

Obedience Training Your Dog

Basic obedience training for puppies begins with basic commands such as sit, stay, come, down, and leave it. Therefore, it’s crucial that your beginner obedience dog training masters these commands before beginning any visits with patients or residents.

It’s also vital that you practice the commands outside of the hospital or nursing home so they become second nature to your dog.

The best way to train a puppy is to use treats and lots of praise. Once your pup has mastered one command, move on to another one. If done correctly, obedience training can be fun for both you and your dog. Also, you will not need to find out any obedience training prices. Still, suppose you need to visit an obedience training school while also saving the obedience training cost. In that case, you can consider one-day dog training programs as well.  

Your New Pup Should Have Lots of Exercises

One of the most critical aspects of home training a puppy is making sure your pup stays healthy and has plenty of energy. This means they need to get lots of exercises, which can be challenging when you’re busy with work or other obligations.

Luckily, there are many ways to make sure you get your dog training exercises if you’re short on time. One way is to take them for a long walk or run in the morning before going to work. You can also consider hiring a pet sitter who can come by and walk your dog once or twice during the day. Finally, you can easily find in-home pet training experts near you. Of course, if all else fails, there’s always the good old-fashioned doggy park!

The Role of Interactive Dog Toys in Training

Interactive dog toys are the best source of entertainment for your dog. In addition, you can use these toys for intermediate obedience dog training. You can easily find such toys on Loobani.  

Some of the most popular toys are puzzle feeder toys. These toys require the dog to figure out how to get to the food or treats inside. This helps keep their mind stimulated and can provide them with the mental exercise they need to stay sharp.

Another one is a molar toothbrush chew toy. This toy is designed to help keep your dog’s teeth clean and healthy. It has a bristled surface that helps remove plaque and tartar buildup.

Learn How to Read Facial Expressions and Body Language of Dogs

One of the best things about having a therapy dog is that it can comfort people even when they’re not saying anything. This is because dogs make use of  body language and facial expressions to communicate how they’re feeling. We as humans can understand these cues after some practice. This will help you better understand your pup and know when they need a break or feel overwhelmed. It will also help gauge the patient’s reaction to the dog and see if they’re enjoying themselves.

Different Signals to Notice

Relaxed Body Language: 

When dogs are relaxed, they’ll have their ears up and forward, eyes soft, and tail wagging slowly.

Anxious or Scared Body Language

Anxious or scared dogs will have their ears back, eyes wide open, and maybe trembling or panting heavily.

Excited Body Language

Excited dogs will have their tails wagging rapidly, ears up and forward, and maybe jumping or licking the person’s face.

Disinterested Body Language

A disinterested dog will have their ears back, eyes closed or looking away and maybe laying down with their head on their paws.

How to Train a Therapy Dog

Tips for Making Your Therapy Dog Visits More Successful

You need to do many things to ensure your therapy dog visit goes smoothly. First, you’ll need to talk with the person’s family or nurses ahead of time to know what’s going on and prepare their loved one accordingly. This might mean making them aware of the dog’s presence and ready any necessary items.  

It’s also essential to ensure your dog is well-behaved and doesn’t jump on people or bark excessively. If you see that your pup is getting too excited, take a break and let them calm down before continuing the visit.

Meeting with the Facility

Before officially bringing a therapy dog in to meet someone, they should meet it first. This will help them feel more comfortable around the dog. Also, this is where any allergies come into play, so all of the staff must know.

During this meeting, it’s also important to discuss any rules or guidelines that the facility would like you to follow while your dog is there. For example, some facilities might not allow dogs on furniture or only want them in a particular area.

It’s also important to discuss with the staff what types of behaviors they would like to see from the dog. For example, a wagging tail is usually seen as a good sign. Still, it might be too exciting and overwhelming for the patient in some cases.

Lastly, make sure you have supplies on your hands, such as toys, treats, and a brush.

Now that you have all the guidelines in place, you’re ready to bring your dog into their facility.

Visiting with Patients and Residents

When it comes to visiting patients and residents at a nursing home or hospital, you need to keep in mind the following:

  • Make sure your pup is comfortable around wheelchairs and walkers.
  • Some facilities have specific visiting hours, so make sure you know them before bringing your dog in.
  • If they allow dogs on their furniture, be careful not to let the dog jump up or drool all over it! This can damage the furniture and is just inconsiderate.

After the Visit

Once your visit is over, be sure to brush your dog and give them a good pat. This will help them relax after a long day of visiting. Then, it’s back home for you and lots of homework! There are plenty of websites that offer obedience training exercises specifically designed for therapy dogs. Make sure to do your research and find a trainer that specializes in therapy dogs and knows what they’re doing. After the training, make sure you practice as much as possible with your dog before bringing them back to visit again.

Lastly, remember: patience is key! Therapy work takes time to perfect, so don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t come naturally to your pup.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to training a therapy dog. Different dogs will respond better to different methods, so it’s important to be flexible and willing to try new things. With that said, let’s find out what breed suits for what kind of therapy applications.

What Dog Breed Suits What Kind of Therapy Applications?

There are a variety of dogs that can be used for therapy work, but each one better suits different applications. For example, a small dog like a Yorkie might be good for visiting patients in their home or hospital room. In contrast, a larger dog like a Golden Retriever would be great for bringing to schools or libraries. So here are five different breeds that can fulfill five different needs for therapies.

Labrador Retrievers

Labrador Retrievers are some of the most popular therapy dogs because they’re so laid back and easy to train. In addition, they love working with people, which makes them an ideal choice for visiting nursing homes or schools. Due to their size, however, they might not be a good choice if you want your dog to visit patients in their home.


Beagles are another excellent choice for therapy work because they love people and have a calming presence. They’re perfect for hospitals, schools, or nursing homes where there are many people around.

Golden Retrievers

Golden Retrievers are the kings of therapy work. They’re known for their gentle disposition and love for people, which allows them to make a great companion in hospitals, nursing homes or schools.


Although they might not be the breed you’d think about when it comes to therapy dogs, poodles are actually excellent choices because they have such cheerful personalities. They’re small enough to quickly visit patients at their homes, but they also do well in other settings like schools and nursing homes.

Yorkshire Terriers

Yorkshire Terriers are another breed that might not be the first choice when it comes to therapy dogs. Still, they make excellent companions during visits. Their size makes them suitable for visiting patients at their homes, but they’re also patient and affectionate, making them great for hospitals or schools.

Bringing it All Together

Let’s do a quick recap of what you have learned in this write-up.  

  • When training a therapy dog, it’s important to be patient and willing to try new things.
  • Different breeds of dogs are better suited for different therapeutic applications.
  • Make sure you brush your dog and give them plenty of love after every visit.

Now that you know all there is to know about training a therapy dog, it’s time to get started. The patients in your community will be glad you did.

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