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What is a Therapy Dog?


therapy dog requirements

As we know, working dogs, apart from service dogs and emotional support animals, include police dogs, detection dogs, herding dogs, therapy dogs as well as a few others. Each working dog has its own area of responsibility. For example, police dogs specially trained to assist police, can hunt down and arrest criminal suspects. And detection dogs are trained to sniff out a particular substance, including illegals drugs, explosives, cancer and so on. In this section, you will learn what a therapy dog is.

1. Introduction

  • A therapy dog is a dog with a good temperament, who is friendly, gentle, patient and confident.

  • A therapy dog should interact positively with patients, children and other animals.

  • A therapy dog is specially trained and at least one year old. 

  • A therapy dog has been trained according to a special therapeutic method and has no problem being petted and touched by people in hospitals, retirement homes, schools, nursing homes and a variety of home care facilities. The dogs are trained to give people in every emergency, affection and comfort. Children love to hug a dog, and adults enjoy to pet them. Therefore, the main task of a therapy dog is to be willing to enjoy physical contact with unfamiliar people. 

2. Whom does a therapy dog serve?

A therapy dog plays an indispensable role in a healing process. Many people claim that contact with a therapy dog improves their peace of mind, happiness and general emotion. Children with autism can study at school accompanied by a therapy dog. And people with heart or mental problems have lowered their blood pressure and stress levels while visiting a therapy dog.

what is a therapy dog

3. What are the requirements of a therapy dog?

    Breed and age  

There is no best breed in a therapy dog, that is, either a big or a small dog, a pure breed or a mixed breed can all become therapy dogs. However, therapy dogs must be (at least) one year old, as the younger puppy is not yet stable in psychology and physical health.   


In addition to having access to all places where all the other dogs are allowed, therapy dogs are also allowed in locations that are specifically accessible to therapy dogs such as hospitals, libraries, schools, etc. In contrast to service dogs, however, there are no rights for therapy dogs that allow them to accompany their handlers into a business establishment. Places that have a  “No Pets, except service dogs” outside the window may refuse to serve someone with a therapy dog. It is advisable to read the rules carefully or to call the businesses in advance.