Therapy dog service is very rewarding for the owners and dogs and the recipients of the unconditional puppy love.
Not every dog is cut out to become a certified therapy dog, but there is a lot you can do to start working towards that goal, even with a young puppy.
It is never too early to start teaching your puppy some basic cues such as sit, down, and come, when he's called. Train your puppy with several short sessions throughout the day—keeping sessions positive and fun, with lots of praise and rewards with small treats or a favorite toy.
If your pup already knows the basics, go to the next level with training “leave it” and stay, gradually increasing the length of time you ask the dog to stay in place.
The “leave it” command is imperative for a therapy dog, since you don't want him to eat something like a pill accidentally dropped on the floor of a hospital or nursing center.
Your puppy also should learn to walk on a loose leash without pulling and to turn his focus to you when you ask for it.
Therapy dog visits are very rewarding, and therapy dogs are in great demand. Therapy dogs visit hospitals, nursing homes, retirement facilities, and schools, to name a few. It is of utmost importance that your dog enjoys visits too.
A therapy dog should enjoy attention from a variety of people and react calmly to new sights and sounds. He should not be reticent about meeting new people and going to new places so early socialization is very important.
The first three months of life are the primary time for socializing a puppy and exposing him in a gradual and positive way to as many new people, animals, sounds, and environments as possible.
It is also important to take your puppy to a puppy training class for socialization purposes and to advance his training in a setting with other people and puppies.
Check out the story of Xander, the therapy dog below!