Therapy dogs are our personal pets that have been trained and evaluated to provide comfort, and emotional support, bringing smiles and joy.

Definition of a Therapy Dog

Therapy Dogs are registered dogs that visit people in nursing homes, hospitals, assisted living facilities and other institutions in an effort to lift spirits. Therapy Dogs and their handlers share the dogs’ unconditional love with the people they visit. Therapy Dogs can enter any facility that allows therapy animals on their premises. This is not the same as a service dog (seeing eye for example) that can enter stores and restaurants. It has been determined that the petting of a dog can help to relieve stress and lower blood pressure.

A therapy dog reinforces its purpose with every visit it makes.

Therapy dog activities include

  • Visiting area hospital patients along with family members as well as patients in hospice
  • Provide respite to residents of nursing homes and assisted living facilities
  • Reading programs for children at libraries
  • Visits at schools to promote well-being and educate students about therapy dogs
  • De-stress days for college students during final exams
  • Visits to the airports providing destress for passengers
  • Present educational programs to local groups such as Brownies, Boy Scouts, Senior Citizens, church groups, etc.
  • Provide relief after natural disasters and traumatic events.
  • Participation in Pet Shows and Health Fairs

A therapy dog must

  • Be at least one year of age
  • If dog is a rescue, it must be owned for at least 6months
  • Be good around other dogs
  • Listen to their handlers
  • Allow strangers to approach and/or pet
  • Be under control by handler at all times
  • Walk on a leash without pulling
  • Tolerate strange noises and smells
  • Not be afraid of medical equipment
  • Not be afraid of people walking unsteadily
  • Be current on all vaccines required by Alliance of Therapy Dogs
  • Have a negative fecal test every 12 months
  • Be clean and well groomed and have trimmed nails

Any dog of any breed or mix of breeds with these qualifications is a good candidate to be a therapy dog.
See Getting Started for more information on getting involved with your dog.