Is this right for me?
The most important factors in pet therapy are personality, demeanor, tolerance, and patience.
RIGHT FOR MY DOG?
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, lie 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, Love on a Leash® also welcomes 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. We would love to welcome more cats and rabbits to our ranks. 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 on 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. The Love on a Leash® Control Evaluation for dogs must be administered by a Certified Animal Behaviorist, Certified Dog Trainer, Certified Obedience Instructor, or AKC approved Evaluator.
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 may cause to third persons (anyone not a member of Love On A Leash®). Remember that you are also always financially responsible for your pet, so if there is other primary insurance coverage (such as a homeowner’s policy), your insurance company will likely be asked to contribute equal shares in the event of an incident involving your pet.
The second is an accident policy which covers injuries that your pet may cause to another Love on a Leash® member. This policy is a secondary liability policy only; your own personal insurance will be used first in the event of an incident involving your pet.
Insurance will be in effect (including during the hours of Supervised Visits) if the following conditions are met:
- You are a member of Love on a Leash® or a team-in-training on a Supervised Visit, 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, as well as the Love on a Leash® rules and regulations, as outlined in our Membership Guidelines.
- You are participating in the activity on a strictly volunteer basis. You may not be receiving payment of any kind while volunteering for Love on a Leash® in order to be covered by our insurance. This means that if you have your certified pet with you at work, or include your certified pet in your work duties, you are not covered by Love on a Leash® insurance and your pet may not wear any Love on a Leash® attire during that time.