Therapy Dog Training (for Health Benefits)


A therapy dog has the power to change your life with their unconditional love. Their soulful eyes make you feel cared and it takes a simple wiggle for dogs to make you smile.

What is a Therapy Dog?

A therapy dog is trained to provide affection and love to people who are alone and need help. They could be people in hospitals, nursing homes, and retirement homes or people living in areas affected by a disaster. Scientific studies indicate that a therapy dog can help people suffering from anxiety disorders and autism.


A therapy dog is trained to provide affection and love to people who are alone and need help.

Therapy dogs are very friendly and gentle. They are calm in all situations and they tend to enjoy being accompanied by humans. You often see these dogs in places like nursing homes and hospitals where therapy dog handlers often volunteer to bring their animal to help others.

How Therapy Dog Training Helps To Reduce Stress In People

A therapy dog can remedy many problems. Dog owners rarely suffer from depression because they have a companion they can trust.

People who live with a therapy dog have lower blood pressure, even during stressful situations. If you have a therapy dog, your dopamine and serotonin levels will remain high, helping you stay relaxed and happy.

Therapy dogs help people through difficult times. You can benefit from the company of a therapy dog if you fall into any of the following categories. 

  • You have hearing or vision impairment
  • Mobility issues keep you from reaching out to emergency alarm etc
  • You are living in a hospital, nursing home, old age home, etc
  • You are going through emotionally difficult times

People who live with a therapy dog have lower blood pressure, even during stressful situations

Apart from traditional help, therapy dogs can also help people by providing them emotional support due to their tremendous emotional healing abilities. People going through difficult situations and suffering from anxiety or stress can make positive changes in their life with the help of a therapy dog.

Here are three main benefits of therapy dog training.


People suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can benefit from the company of a therapy dog. Studies have indicated that therapy dogs can provide emotional support for veterans and other people who suffer from PTSD.


Since dogs are a symbol of love, care, and home, they have natural therapeutic benefits to humans who spend time with them. You may have seen someone volunteering a therapy dog and helping people feel at home.


Therapy dogs can be hugely beneficial for those who find it difficult to relieve stress caused by a traumatic event. Sometimes, kids may find it difficult to face a convict in the court and that could prevent them from standing up for justice. Therapy dogs can help people feel calm and at home so that they can face tough situations.

Steps To Train A Dog Into A Therapy Dog

A therapy dog is not a service dog. Service dogs are trained to provide a specific service while therapy dogs only offer emotional help.

Although being around gentle animals provides comfort and reduces stress, NOT all dogs are fit to become a therapy dog. A dog that’s naturally calm and affectionate would make a great candidate for therapy dog training.


A dog that’s naturally calm and affectionate would make a great candidate for therapy dog training


It’s easy to train a dog into a therapy dog if it has certain special characteristics.

  • Your dog is naturally calm in crowded places
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    He remains comfortable when touched
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    Friendly and gentle animal
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    Your dog doesn’t jump up on people
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    He loves to initiate contact
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    Doesn’t feel scared or panic when strangers are around
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    The dog has received obedience training
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    Your dog has learned to react to new noises
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    He has a good sense of smell
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    He can recognize places and equipment

Apart from these basic characteristics, your dog should be healthy and well-groomed for therapy dog training.

How To Prepare Your Puppy To Be A Therapy Dog

It’s important to prepare your puppy to become a therapy dog so that training her is easy. Here are some lifestyle changes you may consider for your puppy when you plan to train her into a therapy dog.


To train your puppy to be a therapy dog, you need to begin by developing a trusting relationship with her.


Meet new people and provide your puppy with positive and reinforcing interactions

Trust is one of the most important characteristic for a therapy dog and you have to start developing it as soon as your first interaction with your dog occurs. Once your puppy is comfortable with you being around, walk her out of home and socialize. Meet new people and provide your puppy with positive and reinforcing interactions. This will help her develop trust with humans in general.



Obedience is an important characteristic that your dog needs to develop in order to become a therapy dog.

You don’t always need a professional trainer for obedience training for your puppy. You can start these exercises at home and develop accurate communication with your pet.

For basic obedience training, you need an area where you can practice with your dog free from distractions, treats and toys, a short and a long training leash, and training lessons. Each session usually lasts about 15 minutes.

It’s important to set realistic expectations and end training sessions on a positive note.

How To Train A Therapy Dog

To train a dog into a therapy dog, follow these simple steps.

  • Get Advanced Canine Good Citizen or another similar title for your dog so that you can start the basic therapy dog training
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    Take your dog to a Distraction Proofing class
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    Enroll your dog in a therapy dog training course for professional help
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    Apply for therapy dog certification in your area
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    Register with your local and national therapy dog organization

After obtaining a therapy dog certificate for your animal, you can register your dog with different therapy teams and organizations in your area. You may also want to consider getting an insurance program for your therapy dog.

Find more Dog Training Tips on NolongerWild

About the Author Cindy Grant

A pet lover from Boston, USA who is extremely passionate about all cute little pets, especially puppies, kittens and birds. I created NolongerWild as a community where all pet lovers around the world can meet and share their passion with each other.

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