Sometimes in life, we find ourselves in need of a good cuddle session due to anxious and stressful feelings. Therapy dogs can be sweet helpers in these times. Trained to give affection and comfort to those who need it, a Therapy dog can be found in hospitals, schools, disaster areas, nursing homes, and hospice facilities.
Dogs used within therapy began with a registered nurse named Elaine Smith who created a training program for dogs in 1976! She strived to prepare them to be the first out of many groups of therapy dogs that would bring light to those who need it. The title of therapy dog has shifted from a focus on medical environments to encompass schools to provide students a relaxing moment with therapy dogs brought to a campus.
As far as classification goes, therapy dogs are not trained to assist specific individuals like service dogs are. Training and evaluations mostly consist of testing the dog’s react-ability to sudden noises, loud noises, their ability to walk on multiple surfaces, and if they are frightened by medical assistive devices such as wheelchairs.
The common breeds of therapy dogs include Labradors and Golden Retrievers. Even though therapy dogs are limited to what size they are, and even the breed, the most important aspect of a therapy dog is temperament. Temperaments that are most fond are patient, kind, and friendly dogs.
If you are in the Charleston, South Carolina area, there are a few therapy dog training programs here that MUSC accepts, including Alliance of Therapy Dogs (formerly Therapy Dogs, Inc.), Bright and Beautiful Therapy Dogs, Love on a Leash, and Pet Partners (previously Delta Society). The programs have a certain number of visits a dog must acquire in order to be a Therapy Dog! The number ranges from 50-100!
We love all dogs, big or small, here at Dog Tired. If you have a sweet pup that would like to meet new friends, bring them to our facility located on John’s Island to meet friends and have a fantastic time!