How to Train a Therapy Dog

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Do you want to alleviate the pressure of crowded spaces and strangers with a therapy dog? If so, then you have to learn how to train a therapy dog.

Doing so can make an enormous difference in your life. You can help people and animals deal with many issues you might have, ranging from anxiety and depression to loneliness and PTSD.

Keep reading to learn how to train a therapy dog. We will help you ease your dog through the process and make it easier for you and for your dog to thrive in the therapy dog program.

How to Train a Therapy Dog

When you’re going to train a therapy dog, it is important to choose a dog that is naturally calm and gentle in disposition. Once you have a dog with a good temperament, you can start training your pup.

Obedience Training

The first step in obedience training is teaching the basic commands: sit, stay, come, down, and heel. These commands should be taught in a positive and reinforcing way. Once obedience training is done, you can start socialization training.

Socialization Training

Socialization is key in training a therapy dog. They must be comfortable around all types of people, in all kinds of settings. Begin introducing your dog to different types of people, children, the elderly, the disabled, etc. Take them to different places, grocery stores, hospitals, schools, etc.

The more exposure they have to different types of people and places, the better they will do as a therapy dog. Be sure to praise them and give them treats often during socialization training to keep it fun and positive!

Specific Training

After obedience training and socialization, specific therapy training may be required. This will depend on the type of therapy the dog will be providing.

These tasks may include providing gentle pressure when someone is feeling anxious or sad, giving kisses or paw shakes, or lying down next to someone in a hospital bed. Therapy dogs must be calm and gentle to be effective, so it is important to train them carefully.

What Breed Is Best for Therapy

There’s no one “perfect” therapy dog breed, but some breeds tend to excel in the role. Breeds that make good therapy dogs are typically ones that are quiet, gentle, and loving. They should also be good with other dogs and people, and be comfortable in various environments.

Some popular therapy dog breeds include Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Poodles, and Boxers. However, don’t forget about shelter dogs. These dogs are more often overlooked and are in line to be euthanized, give them a second chance in life by training them to be therapy dogs!

Train a Therapy Dog to Help Those in Need

You will know how to train a therapy dog through obedience, socialization, and specific training. You will also learn the common breeds that are effective therapy dogs. With patience and consistency, nearly any dog can be trained to be a therapy dog and bring joy and comfort to those who need it most.

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