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Becoming A Therapy Dog

A Therapy Dog is a dog that is trained to provide affection and comfort to people suffering from a wide variety of mental and physical problems. They visit hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, schools and non profit gatherings. They also assist to help people with learning difficulties and stressful situations such as disaster areas.

Therapy dogs come in all sizes, shapes and breeds. The most important characteristic of a therapy dog is its temperament. A  therapy dog must be friendly, patient, confident and at ease in any situation. Therapy dogs must also enjoy human contact and be content to be petted and handled.

The primary job of a therapy dog is to allow anyone to make physical contact and to be able to enjoy that contact. The dog must freely allow children and adulys to give hugs and kisses; and even pull on it's ears and tail. Adults usually enjoy simply petting the dog. The dog must be comfortable being lifted onto, or made to climb onto a patient's lap or bed and sit or lie comfortably there. 

Therapy dogs are not classified as service or assistance dogs. Service or assistance dogs directly assist humans, and have a legal right to accompany their owners in most areas and public buildings. In the United States, service dogs are legally protected at the federal level by the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Therapy dogs do not provide direct assistance and are not mentioned in the Americans with Disabilities Act.[1] Institutions may invite, limit, or prohibit access by therapy dogs. If allowed, many institutions have rigorous requirements for therapy dogs.

Many organizations provide testing and accreditation for therapy dogs. Most require that a dog pass the equivalent of the American Kennel Club's Canine Good Citizen test, and then add further requirements specific to the environments in which the dogs will be working. Typical tests might ensure that a dog can handle sudden loud or strange noises, can walk on assorted unfamiliar surfaces comfortably, are not frightened by people with canes, wheelchairs, or unusual styles of walking or moving, get along well with children and with the elderly, and so on.

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