Frequently Asked Questions:
How do I know if my dog is a good candidate for pet-therapy?
Does your dog like people? Does he wiggle his tail and approach everyone he meets with enthusiasm? Do people light up when they see him? If so, there's a good chance your dog will make a great therapy dog. Of course, he needs to learn the basic obedience commands, too, but his temperament is the most important indication of a successful therapy dog.
Can my cat or rabbit become a therapy pet?
Yes, if he likes people, is tolerant of being on a leash, and can meet the requirements on the "LOALControl Evaluation for Cats and Rabbits" form.
Is there any particular age a dog should be?
Your dog must be old enough to remember the commands he's learned and to practice those on a regular basis. Your dog must be over a year of age to be certified.
Are there any particular skills I can teach my dog to get ready for this line of work?
Yes. Your dog needs to know the basic obedience commands to sit; lay down; remain for two minutes in a down/stay; heel; and come. He'll also need to learn some specific commands such as "leave it;" and "paws up." Dogs must be able to heel on a loose leash. (see LOAL Control Evaluation) .
How do I find a trainer or someone to evaluate my dog?
You may use any professional behaviorist, trainer, or other dog professional. Your veterinarian, or boarding/kennel managers, or groomers may have some good suggestions for appropriate professionals. Also, the AKC maintains a list of Canine Good Citizen evaluators on their website: www.akc.org
How do I find other volunteers or a chapter in my area?
Contact your local chapter or contact us for volunteers in your area.
My mother is getting older. She lives by herself and needs some assistance. Can I train a dog through the Foundation for Pet Provided Therapy to give to her as an assistance dog?
No. Our program does not train assistance dogs or service dogs. The dogs we train belong to us; we take them with us to visit various facilities, but they return home with us. Together, we make a team that provides therapy for residents in nursing homes, hospitals, or retirement homes or children in schools.
I've been trying to find a pet-provided therapy class and I can't find one. Can my dog still become a therapy dog?
Yes. While it is not required that you and your dog attend a class, we highly recomment it. If not class is available you can work by yourself with your dog until he masters the behaviors listed on the LOAL Control Evaluation. Then, when you are ready, take him to a professional dog trainer or behaviorist and have his skills evaluated using the LOAL Control Evaluation. The evaluator completes and signs this form.
Do I have to visit in a group? Or, can I visit a facility of my choice with my dog by myself?
Lots of our volunteers like visiting as a group; others prefer to work individually with their dog as a team. Whatever works for you is fine. Whether alone or in a group, each member of LOAL is responsible for following the current rules and regulations published as LOAL Guidelines.
Does my dog have to have passed an obedience class before he can be trained to be a therapy pet?
No, your dog doesn't have to attend or pass a class in obedience, although he will have to demonstrate to the evaluator that he can do the basic commands of: sit, lay down, down/stay, heel, and come.
My dog's a couch potato. She's pretty quiet, but she's not shy. Will she make a good therapy pet?
If she likes people, she'll probably do fine. Some dogs, especially small, quiet ones, do very well curled up on a resident's lap, or on the bed of an elderly patient. Lying quietly is a special skill some dogs have and quiet, frail patients often prefer this gentle type of dog.
My Golden Retriever's on the go all the time. His tail wags whether he's sitting still, running around, or chasing a frisbee. He loves people, but he's so exuberant. Will he overwhelm the residents of the facility we visit?
Well, yes, he might overwhelm some residents, but he just might bring a huge smile to others who remember their own exuberant puppies. It is important that your dog learns to "settle:" that is, to calm down, go to work, and pay attention to the commands you give while visiting.