Could your dog have a career in therapy? -

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."

Copyright 2012  America Now. All rights reserved.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Physicians warn against giving melatonin to children

    Physicians warn against giving melatonin to children

    Parents desperate to get their troubled sleepers to bed are turning to synthetic melatonin, which is a supplement sold over the counter. But expert warn it could have adverse effects on child development.
    Many adults turn to sleep aids like melatonin, but now more parents are giving them to their kids, too. We talked to physicians to see what they had to say about how it could affect your child's development.
  • Six deadly foods for dogs

    Six deadly foods for dogs

    Every pet owner knows a dog can get into just about anything around the house. One woman found that out the hard way when her dog ate a bunch of grapes! Turns out, that's one of the most dangerous foods
    Every pet owner knows a dog can get into just about anything around the house. But these common snacks could be fatal for Fido.
  • Mouse droppings cause disease

    Mouse droppings cause respiratory disease

    Mice are one of the most resilient mammals living on the planet. Some people have them as pets, and they're also used in laboratory experiments. If wild mice get inside your house, they can potentially
    If wild mice find a way inside your home, they can potentially cause thousands of dollars worth of damage to your drywall and insulation. They can also transmit a harmful disease which can cause death in humans. 
Powered by WorldNow