Could your dog have a career in therapy? - AmericaNowNews.com

Could your dog have a career in therapy?

The dog is said to be man's best friend—but how about adding "model citizen" to his resume? Well, it turns out some pooches are giving back to their communities as "therapy dogs."

"Volunteering is a great way to give back, but community service isn't just for humans anymore," explains Luciano Aguilar. "Therapy dogs are lifting the spirits of people in hospitals and assisted-living homes across the country! If your dog has the right temperament, he could become a certified therapy dog."

Kenyon Evers and his Golden Retriever Marley are regular visitors at the Country Villa Monte Vista Health Care Center outside of Los Angeles. Marley was recently certified as a therapy dog and has quickly become a favorite among the residents.

"A therapy dog's primary job is to provide comfort and affection by letting unfamiliar people pet and interact with them," Luciano says. "These canine companions do a very good job of relieving stress, lifting depression and fostering emotional well being. A good temperament is key. Any dog can become a therapy dog if he's got a gentle disposition and is given proper training."

Therapy dogs are calm, friendly, have good canine manners and are able to be touched all over. They're able to quickly accept a friendly stranger. This is especially important because therapy dogs frequently encounter people who are new to them.

If you think your dog is a good candidate, you'll need to have him evaluated by an organization such as Therapy Dogs International.

In order to become certified, your dog will have to pass a series of tests, including: Sitting politely for petting, sitting and downing on command and seeing how he reacts to distractions like a wheelchair. A therapy dog shouldn't be easily distracted. If a dog loses focus or becomes excited, it can be upsetting to the person they're visiting. And that definitely defeats the purpose.

"If this kind of volunteer work appeals to you, see if your dog has what it takes to become a certified therapy dog. It's a great way to brighten someone's day," says Luciano. "And I guarantee it will brighten your day, too."

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