Frequently Asked Questions
What is a Therapy Dog?
A Therapy Animal is a pet that is trained with its owner, as a team, to provide comfort and stress relief to others in a variety of situations.
Therapy pets are usually the personal pets of their handlers. They work as a team with their handler to provide a variety of services to others. Therapy pet teams volunteer in settings such as schools, hospitals, and nursing homes. In addition to providing emotional and social support, Therapy Pets may also help individuals achieve physical and educational goals. For example, throwing a ball to a dog to increase mobility, or having children read aloud to a dog. This is what we would consider GOAL oriented therapy.
Therapy pets are most often dogs but can be animals of other species. VIP Dog teams only train dogs for Therapy Teams. Therapy dogs are working dogs (dogs with jobs), but they are not Service Animals. Federal law does not legally define Therapy Pets and they do not have any legal protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA).
To become a certified Therapy Pet, most organizations have evaluations the handler and pet must pass as a team. Certification typically includes insurance coverage, consistent visit and behavior guidelines, animal health assurances, and cleanliness standards.
Federal law does not have a legal definition of a Therapy Pet. Additionally, federal law does not allow Therapy Pets in public place that have “no pets” policies. Therapy Pets are only allowed into facilities where they have been invited, or that are open to any pet. However, state laws may allow Therapy Pets to travel on public transportation to and from scheduled therapy visits.
What breed of dog makes a great therapy dog?
The breed really doesn’t matter. It’s all about temperament. The best therapy dog is a dog who enjoys being pet and getting attention from everyone they meet. A dog who is indifferent to other dogs. He doesn’t need to like every dog he meets he just needs to not try to play or growl or bark at other dogs.
A good therapy dog has had at least a few dog classes. If a dog has passed his Canine Good Citizen test (CGC) he is ready for therapy work. The dog is only half of the team. The person needs to be able to multitask, you need to carry on a conversation with others AND keep a close eye on your dog. If this sounds like something that is right for you and your dog check the class listing for the next available Therapy Prep Class and learn what it takes to become a therapy team.