Canine Comfort, LLC
Your partner in therapy dog program development
What Are Therapy Dogs?

Therapy dogs bring comfort, support, love, and animal companionship to
people of all ages in a variety of settings. Therapy dogs can be any breed,
size, shape, and color. No one particular breed is specifically suited to
therapy dog work – the correct temperament is most important.  A therapy
dog must love people and be well-socialized, even-tempered, calm, tolerant,
and polite.

True therapy dogs are registered through a professional organization such
as Therapy Dogs, Incorporated. Minimum age for testing is one year old.
The testing process is thorough and dogs and handlers are tested on items
related to environmental challenges, temperament, and team skills.

Dogs being considered for therapy dog work should be able to:

Willingly initiate contact with unfamiliar people
Demonstrate good social skills and manners
Function comfortably around medical equipment (hospital beds,
wheelchairs, walkers, oxygen concentrators, bed alarms, etc.)
Demonstrate behaviors on cue in the midst of distractions
Greet people politely with all four paws on the ground
Calmly accept demonstrative affection from unfamiliar people
Remain well-controlled around other dogs

Therapy dogs teams are comprised of a registered therapy dog and their handler functioning in a volunteer capacity. Therapy dog teams are
prohibited from receiving compensation for their visits.  Therapy dogs are
not service dogs and do not have the same access rights as service dogs
dictated by the Americans With Disabilities Act.  Misrepresentation of a
therapy dog as a service dog can result in fines and jail time.

Handlers considering therapy dog work must:

Enjoy being around people of all ages
Be friendly, polite, and easy going
Be an active listener
Have the ability to communicate with different populations
Be aware of his/her dog at all times
Be in control of my dog at all times
Praise his/her dog’s good behavior
Have the ability to positively redirect his/her dog’s inappropriate
Know the signs of stress in his/her dog and know how to relieve it
Follow strict confidentiality rules
Not make excuses for his/her dog’s shortcomings
Want to his/her dog to become a therapy dog because the dog would
genuinely enjoy working in this capacity

Where Do Therapy Dogs Visit?

Therapy dogs and their handlers are flexible and often visit people in many
different environments, provided it is safe for all parties involved. They may
Hospice patients in a setting the patient calls “home”
Skilled Nursing Facilities
Assisted Living Facilities
Community Based Residential Facilities
Grief Support Groups
Public Libraries
Anywhere else the handler's imagination takes them!

Documented benefits of therapy dog visits include:

Increased levels of serotonin, prolactin, and oxytocin (feel-good
Decreased levels of cortisol
Reduced incidence of depression
Reduced blood pressure
Reduced loneliness
Reduced levels of pain (emotional, physical, spiritual)
Welcome change from routine
Distraction from infirmity
Opportunity for life review
Fill animal companionship needs