For this weeks Concho Careers we spent time with four friendly pups to see what it takes to be a therapy dog…and the first thing that dog must have is instinct “you don’t make a therapy dog, the training and all that gives them the experience of the different types of things they have to deal with, but if the dog doesn’t have the natural desire and feeling to be a therapy dog it’s not going to work” says Tom Maurer, the dogs Owner and Trainer.
Once the dog turns one and it has the temperament to become a therapy dog it must pass the Canine Good Citizen program…a pre requisite for most therapy dog groups. Maurer says “the things for a cgc are pretty common sense, healing, sitting, those types of things, stay and, they walk over crinkly paper and things like that to make noises and just be a calm dog, that’s the cgc part.”
After the dog is a Canine Good Citizen it then goes through additional testing with a therapy dog organization, Tom Maurer recommends therapy dog international “they’ll take something that simulates a bed pan dropping on the floor in a hospital and part of the training, they’ll do that behind a dog when the dog’s not expecting it, how does that dog react, that’s the key, they can be startled but then immediately recover and oh yeah that’s what it was” said Maurer.
The testing puts the dogs through different situations to see how well they react with things like noise and food on the floor “therapy dogs again, are trained to deal with all sorts of circumstances and deliver that calm easy steady pace, you can see the dogs here today are totally relaxed” stated Maurer.
Certified therapy dogs visit places like hospitals, schools, old age homes, and libraries Maurer said “just being there so that person can hug them, pet them, and relax, take that stress out.”
Maurer says for more information on your dog becoming a therapy dog visit tdi-dog.org.