Is this right for me?
A therapy dog can be any size, breed, color, shape, or gender. The most important factor is personality. A therapy dog should be even-tempered, good-natured and able to accept handling by other people. Primarily, the ideal therapy pet should enjoy being around people! First, therapy dogs must master basic obedience skills. This means that they should be able to respond to the commands to sit, lay down, heel, remain in a down/stay, for two minutes, and come. Therapy dogs may have to do a variety of tasks for which additional training is needed, if for no other reason than to make sure accidents don't happen. For example, therapy dogs learn to respond to the command "leave it" so that they don't eat food or medicine that might be dropped on the floor of the facilities they visit.
Therapy dogs must be people dogs. This is achieved by exposing the dogs to all kinds of people : the elderly, or frail, children and adults. Regular visits to various places such as parks and shopping centers will allow your dog to get used to all kinds of people. Encourage people to pet your dog and explain what you are going to do with him.
A therapy dog will come in contact with a variety of surfaces and it is important for her to know how to interact with them without injuring herself or the person she is visiting. Good foot grooming is essential. You need to teach your dog how to get up and down from a bed gracefully. Teach her to get up in a chair or on a bed only if invited up.
Right for my cat or rabbit?
In addition to dogs, LOAL also accepts cats and rabbits as therapy pets. Our cat and rabbit membership currently makes up a little less than 3% of our total active therapy pet membership. Most owners of therapy cats and rabbits say the most important traits include a laid-back, steady, calm personality, and a tolerance for the unusual. A reactive pet (who reacts before thinking) is not a good therapy pet. Therapy pets must be able to tolerate sights and sounds that are unusual; petting that could be different or hard; or any number of other things that are out of the ordinary. Cats and rabbits certified with Love on a Leash are described as affectionate. Although the cat or rabbit doesn't have to be as outwardly affectionate as a dog might be – purring, snuggling on a lap or on a bed, or other gestures of affection are important. As with our dog therapy members, cats and rabbits must be on a leash at all times when making a visit.
How do I find a trainer?
Love on a Leash® does not employ or certify its own trainers. To find a trainer in your area, look for a certified dog trainer, preferably one that is certified to conduct the AKC’s Canine Good Citizen Test.
Members of Love on a Leash® are covered by two kinds of insurance.
The first is a liability policy that covers injuries that your pet causes to third persons (anyone not a member of Love On A Leash®). Remember you are always financially responsible for your pet, so if there is other primary insurance coverage (such as a homeowner’s policy), that other insurance company or companies will likely be asked to contribute equal shares.
The second is an accident policy which covers injuries that your pet causes to another volunteer of Love on a Leash®. This policy is a secondary liability policy only; your own personal insurance will be used first.
Insurance will be in effect (including during the hours of supervised visits) if the following conditions are met:
- You are a member and or a volunteer of Love on a Leash® while acting on behalf of and within the scope of our principal objectives.
- You are following all of the rules and regulations of the place that you are visiting and the Love on a Leash® rules and regulations.
- You are participating in the activity on a strictly volunteer basis. This means that you won’t be covered if you have your pet with you while you are at work or use your pet as part of your work. You can’t receive pay of any kind.
Example 1: You are a physical therapist at a hospital. You take your dog to work to help one of your patients exercise by throwing a tennis ball 100 times in 15 minutes. Your patient is scratched by your dog. Our insurance policy will not cover the injury.
Example 2: You are a physical therapist at a hospital. You take your dog to your work after-hours to visit patients in the rehab unit as part of a hospital-run therapy pet program. You are not required to participate in this program as part of your work. You are not paid for time spent at the hospital. The patient throws the ball 100 times. The dog scratches the patient. You are covered by our insurance policy.