Many dog owners have thought about how wonderful it would be to bring joy to other people by doing therapy work with their best friend. The benefits of a dog's company are impossible to ignore; however, when it comes to the qualities of a good therapy dog, there are important characteristics for a dog to have beyond good manners and friendliness.
So what characteristics make a therapy dog so special? Here’s an overview:
• Must love people. That means all people. Not just you, your family and your friends, but people of all kinds, everywhere, including people who act weird. Dr. Patricia McConnell said it well: “Good therapy dogs need to be the kind of dogs who adore people, all people, and want nothing more than to connect with them.”
There is an enormous difference between love and tolerance. If your dog only tolerates new people he’s not going to enjoy therapy work, no matter how much you want to do it.
• Must love physical contact with familiars and strangers. That includes inappropriate and clumsy handling, being approached from behind and yes, hugs, even though hugs tend to be unnerving to many dogs. Again, enjoyment and tolerance are very different. A good therapy candidate desires and welcomes physical contact.
• Must be level-headed. One common theme that runs throughout all therapy settings is their unpredictability. You never know what’s going to happen or what new things may be presented to your dog. Having a canine that is outgoing and confident and unlikely to startle easily in new situations is key. Think “unflappable.”
• Must be calm, even in the face of excitement. Nurses may run down a hall to tend to a patient. Will your dog leap up as they run by? What if someone jumps up and starts shrieking or hops up and down and claps. Will that get the dog all fired up? That sort of canine reaction would be less than ideal in a therapy setting. A dog who sits quietly when interacting with people is also necessary. Licking and pawing are undesirable in therapy dogs.
Read the full article by Krissi Goetz and see more characteristics at the following link: Jackson Hole News And Guide
Source: Jackson Hole News And Guide
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