Nowadays, people are getting used to seeing dogs that serve as disabled people’s guides or assistants. Seeing-eye dogs, as these dogs are fondly called, are assigned to the blind while assistance dogs have been trained to help people who are either deaf, in wheelchairs, or those with other disabilities. Aside from seeing-eye dogs and assistance dogs, there is a particular type of dog which also specially trained to help sick people, but they perform their job in a different way.
These dogs are called therapy dogs. Their training is different from the ones given to seeing-eye dogs and assistance dogs, as they do not actually provide physical help as the seeing-eye and assistant dogs do. But many health professionals are now beginning to appreciate its helpful effects to the sick or disabled. What the therapy dog actually does is it provides comfort and companionship to disabled people in wheelchairs, hospice care and other welfare homes. They are not trained to provide sight to the blind walking on the street, or respond to doorbells or knocks on doors, but they were sent to specialized therapy dog training classes that make them perform their jobs as therapy dogs.
Dogs are normally ill at ease with strangers, while some others are not comfortable with children or those sitting on wheelchairs or those with walking sticks or crutches. Socializing with people who need the dog’s assistance is a major element in dog therapy training. Therapy dogs are also trained to get used to the presumed clumsy petting styles of disabled people, or those whose movements are quite limited with malady or old age.
Another skill that a dog must learn during therapy dog training is to crawl up on laps or onto beds so that they can get closer to their owners who may bedridden or physically handicapped to sit or walk around. Some dogs find this strange enough as they are basically taught not to sit on furniture. Teaching a dog to abandon what it has learned in the past can be quite a task to trainers, but for a dog that’s been pronounced to undergo therapy dog training, this must be accomplished.
The Selection Process
Therapy dog trainers do a meticulous selection of dogs that they want to undergo therapy dog training. Because of the jobs’ demands, only dogs that are very amiable, gentle, calm and comfortable to strangers qualify to even start with the therapy dog training. The dogs that are best suited for this type of job are the golden retrievers because they are very friendly and have good temperaments.
As a side note, dogs are not alone in the field of therapy and companionship. Many observers have also found out that rabbits, cats and ponies can also act as therapy animals. Animals that are gentle and open to human companionship can very well qualify for socialization similar to the one taught in therapy dog training, except for the pony, because it is not practical to teach it to crawl onto beds.
The presence of a dedicated dog or any pet for that matter, can greatly grease up emotional pains suffered by sick individuals; it has been proven by psychology and health experts. So if you want to create a memory in the life of someone, you may want to submit your dog for therapy dog training. The comfort that they can give to someone can be the priceless memory that he may carry down to the very last of his days.