What exactly is a service dog?

Many people confuse them with Service Dogs which leads to the erroneous belief that their dog would never be able to assist those in need. It is true that Service Dogs are specialized canines. They are who we see guiding the blind, trained as special alert animals or aiding those with disabilities. Therapy dogs, on the other hand, are those animals who provide much needed comfort and affection to the residents of nursing homes, children in schools and the sick and injured in hospitals.  A Therapy Dog can come in all different sizes and breeds. They just need to enjoy making physical contact with unfamiliar people.

What kind of temperament is best for a therapy dog?


  • Must enjoy a lot of human contact and petting even when it is clumsy.

  • Be comfortable staying put whether they are on a floor, a chair or a lap.

  • Need to know at least basic obedience commands and respond consistently.

  • Need to be tolerant of loud children, wheelchairs, walkers, the loud or strange noises one encounters in a hospital or school setting.

  • Tolerant of animals they may see in therapeutic facilities.

  • Tolerant of children, the geriatric and many different kinds of disabled people

What effects do therapy dogs have on those the people they visit?


  • Increase alertness and awareness

  • Decrease stress and anxiety

  • Speed recovery from illness and injury

  • Decrease loneliness

  • Provide general comfort

  • Help with motor skills

  • Build trust

  • Lower blood pressure

What are the requirements to become a therapy dog?

You must:

  • Pass an evaluation by the licensing service agency you become affiliated with. This can vary from one organization to another.

  • Meet minimum age requirements for yourself and your dog

  • Have your animal spayed or neutered.

  • Not feed a raw food diet. (This is because of the risk of Salmonella poisoning.)

  • Have a record of up to date vaccines and worming

  • Bathed your pet prior to each visit

  • Both wear an ID

  • Keep your pet on a leash

If you are interested in Therapy Dog Training contact us at:  563-391-9522

Training class sign up forms are available at www.animalfamilyveterinarycare.com/dogtraining/