Posts Tagged ‘therapy dog registry’

What do you need to know about Therapy Dogs:

Dogs can have a beneficial impact on the people around them, whether they serve an individual as a service dog, provide support as an emotional support dog, or bring comfort as a therapy dog. Here are some of the differences between these types of dogs:

Service Dogs – Service dogs, defined under the ADA, are individually trained to work and perform tasks for a person with a disability. These dogs are covered under the ADA’s rights, meaning they can be brought into public establishments and live with their disabled owner even when a “no pets” policy is in place. Emotional Support Dogs – Emotional support dogs are the middle ground between service dogs and therapy dogs. These dogs provide emotional support through companionship and can be trained for a specific owner, but are not explicitly trained for people with disabilities. These dogs help relieve loneliness, depression, anxieties, and phobias. However, they are not covered under the ADA’s rights to bring animals into public establishments but can live with their disabled owner even if there is a “no pets” policy. Therapy Dogs – Therapy dogs bring emotional support through long-term care in places such as hospitals, retirement homes, schools, mental health institutions. These dogs are not covered under the ADA and are usually brought into institutions through a non-profit organization. Therapy dogs can handle various environments and bring comfort to many people in clinical, and learning settings and typically are trained, licensed, and insured under an organization.

Hence, the validation of what constitutes a therapy dog has a specific definition, but in regards to legal rights, those rights can vary. According to the Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, there is a lack of objective data regarding the public’s ability to understand these animal’s roles as well as the animal’s legitimacy concerning rules and regulations overlooking them. Governing documents and company policies all have different definitions of therapy dogs and how they interact with public spaces.  The JERPH states that no specific laws governing therapy animals. Thus, this leaves the rules regarding therapy animals lacking in definition and can also lead to loopholes about how therapy dogs interact with the world.

What do laws and policies state about Therapy Dogs? According to the Fair Housing Act, the act follows the ADA guidelines regarding service animals and thus uses the term “assistance animal” as a way to ensure housing providers of their obligations, labeling the terms “service animal,” “support animals” and “therapy animals” within that definition. While the FHA defines therapy dogs under the term “assistance,” the FHA allows housing providers to refuse access for therapy dogs onto their property but will allow service dogs to gain access to public spaces because of their rights under the ADA. Emotional support animals have access to housing, in spite of no-pets policies under the FHA. 

In the state of New York, a report issued in 2018, concluded that there are no national or statewide standards regarding training, evaluation, certification, and identification of therapy dogs. It also states that there is “confusion regarding the rights and responsibilities of [owners of] therapy dogs [and] emotional support dogs.” Hence, in its conclusion, it states that it recommends the development of those standards so it can benefit the public, their dogs, and organizations, also suggesting that therapy dogs should be licensed and identified by therapy dog tags and other accessories and should have liability insurance as part of their coverage. Another organization, Assistance Dogs International, follows the ADA guidelines in regards to service animals, but does not explicitly define the difference between service, emotional support, and therapy dogs, also using the classification assistance dogs as an overarching term. The ADI’s standards apply more so to people with disabilities, stating that whether the disability is physical or mental, the animal must be individually trained for specific tasks for that person to be considered a service dog and be given ADA rights. Thus, the ADI only provides training standards for service animal trainers and organizations, excluding emotional support dogs and therapy dogs from those standards. Unlike governing policies and accreditation organizations, companies like IHOP help define therapy dogs and the boundaries for these kinds of assistance animals. According to IHOP’s policy, therapy dogs are trained, certified, and insured to work in institutions to help educate a community, provide comfort, and act as animal ambassadors for their local community. They also state that therapy dogs do not fall under the ADA regulation and have no rights to public access. Hence, if a therapy dog were to try and gain public access to an IHOP restaurant, they would not be allowed to unless otherwise allowed by the owner of the establishment.

How can Therapy Dogs get certified?

The American Kennel Club, while does not certify therapy dogs, provides their training programs for organizations to use to be able to verify their dog as a therapy dog. The Canine Good Citizen (CGC) is considered to be a prerequisite, which includes the 10-step CGC test as a way for their dogs to get acquainted with basic dog training requirements. The AKC also offers title awards in their AKC Therapy Dog™ program, which allows the organization to recognize dogs for excellent service and meet requirements needed by their AKC approved training organization.

Approved organizations, such as Alliance of Therapy Dogs, have their own set of standards for those wishing to turn their dogs into therapy dogs, which includes finding a certified tester to test the dog’s basic training and demeanor. Once the dog goes through a few test runs supervised by the examiner in medical facilities, the person can apply and approve their animal. ATD members then must follow the organization’s guidelines, which includes the ATD providing liability insurance, dog health requirements, grooming requirements, dog equipment, and safety precautions.

If you would like to register your therapy dog online, you may do so here. You can also order your identification card and therapy dog vest while registering your therapy animal. Although not legally required, having a therapy animal identification card and vest can be useful when identifying your animal as a therapy animal in public.

Can my dog become a Therapy Dog?

Therapy dogs can be any breed of dog, as the primary purpose of therapy dogs is to provide people with companionship and comfort. Hence, therapy dogs must be able to enjoy the company of people of all ages and be comfortable being touched. The AKC has their own outlined qualities, including:

The dog must have an undiscriminating love for the people he/she meets Have a willingness to meet new people Have a calm demeanor Have a high tolerance for physical discomfort Must not get easily scared by loud noises and sudden movements

When it comes to therapy dogs in public spaces, therapy dogs can only be allowed in open areas when that public space has a therapy dog program or is permitted by the official representative of that organization/company, according to the ATD. Because these dogs can bring support in care and education facilities, therapy dogs can They also states that the presence of a therapy dog can be overall beneficial to the people around them. The ATD says that animal-assisted therapy helps people relax by releasing serotonin, prolactin, and oxytocin in the brain, reducing loneliness, providing comfort, and creating a distraction as a result. Physically, therapy dogs can lower blood pressure, diminish physical pain, motivate people, and help with social interaction. Because these dogs are not generally allocated to a disabled owner, these dogs can be specially trained to support more than one person through any situation.

Therapy dogs fulfill a wide range of needs. They can provide a welcome distraction for students during stressful exam periods, provide affection and companionship to seniors and give comfort and joy to patients recovering from illnesses in hospitals. Therapy dogs can provide people of all ages with unconditional love, a furry hug, and some much-needed stress relief.

What is a Therapy Dog?

A therapy dog is a dog that has undergone training to provide comfort and support to people, often in group settings. Therapy dogs provide help to people other than their owner, while service dogs and emotional support dogs directly assist their owners with a physical or mental health condition. Therapy dogs can frequently be found working in environments such as schools, retirement homes, hospitals, workplaces, disaster sites, nursing homes, and hospices. 

There are three basic steps involved in certifying a therapy dog:  Adopt a dog that has the appropriate demeanor and intelligence to serve as a therapy dog.  Train the dog to provide comfort and support to others, including in group settings at a variety of locations.  Optionally register your trained therapy dog with an organizationsuch as Service Dog Certifications

In this article, we’ll explore how a regular dog can become a therapy dog. We will also explain the key differences between a therapy dog and a service dog or emotional support dog, especially when it comes to the rights of their handlers. 

Types of Therapy Animals

Therapy animals are commonly dogs, but they can be any type of domesticated animal that has been trained to provide comfort and support to individuals and groups that are experiencing distress. These animals can provide this service just through their presence – animals are known to have a calming effect on people – but can also be trained to perform tasks. For example, a therapy dog can be trained to lie down for pets, perform tricks to provide a welcome distraction for patients, or provide comforting paw pressure to someone struggling with anxiety. 

Any breed of dog can qualify as a therapy dog, as long as they have the proper temperament and intelligence. A good therapy dog should have the ability to be around groups of people and remain calm and dedicated to their tasks. A therapy dog must be able to remain focused even if the individuals around it are in distress. Proper socialization for a therapy dog is key. A therapy dog will come into contact with many strangers, so it’s critical to ensure that the dog has the proper demeanor and behavioral aptitude for the job. 

Therapy dogs often work in various environments, some of which can be chaotic such as a school, hospital, or disaster area. A therapy animal handler has to be able to ensure that their dog will remain alert, calm, and responsive to their commands in any situation. A therapy dog also has to handle surprises as small children and people suffering from mental health issues may act erratically. For example, a therapy dog should remain calm even as a classroom full of excited squealing children approach it or in a hospital with distracting noises and doctors and nurses bustling back and forth. Due to these potentially stressful environments, it is also important that a therapy dog handler takes care to ensure that the therapy dog is not being overworked or stressed and is given the opportunity for plenty of breaks and periods of rest. A therapy dog should enjoy their work in assisting others. 

Even though dogs are traditionally the most commonly used animal in the therapy world, other species can also perform this important work. These include:

Cats – Although they may not be as “transportable” as canines, some nursing homes have made cats a permanent part of their elderly care regimen. A resident feline at a nursing home can weave in and out of the patient’s rooms and, if the mood strikes, may even choose to stay for a snooze or a snuggle. A daily visit from a cat can brighten even the darkest of moods. Equine – Horses are being used to help individuals that are dealing with things like drug abuse, learning disabilities or rehabilitation. Teaching a person how to trust and interact with a creature such as a horse can have invaluable benefits. Small Animals – Guinea pigs and rabbits are also being used for therapy work. These small furry animals are easy to manage and can be of great comfort, especially for individuals that may be fearful of dogs and/or cats. Do I need an Emotional Support Dog or a Therapy Dog?

A therapy dog provides comfort for others, but if you are in need of your own comfort animal with you at all times, an emotional support animal (ESA) is probably more appropriate. Emotional support animals are a recognized type of assistance animal under federal housing laws in addition to various state laws. ESAs are protected under the federal Fair Housing Act; they are permitted to accompany their owners in residences (even if the building bans pets) free of charge. 

Emotional support animals are commonly dogs and cats, but they can be any type of small, domesticated animal. ESAs do not require any special training – they provide comfort and support for mental health conditions just through their companionship.

In order to qualify for an emotional support animal, you need a letter of recommendation from a licensed healthcare professional. The licensed professional will determine whether you have a condition that qualifies for an emotional support animal and whether an emotional support animal would help with that condition. Emotional support animals are used for various mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, and phobias. If you have an ESA letter, you can submit it to your landlord for the accommodation of your emotional support animal. Here is a link to a post on how to get an emotional support animal letter.

What is the difference between a Service Dog and a Therapy Dog?

A service dog assists just its owner with their disability, while a therapy dog is expected to interact with other people and provide them with therapeutic support. Service dog owners generally do not want members of the public interfering with their dogs while they are on duty. 

Service dogs have special rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act and are allowed to go to public areas such as grocery stores, restaurants, libraries, entertainment venues, and hotels. A service dog is trained to perform specific tasks to assist its owner with a disability. For example, a service dog can be its owner’s eyes or ears, pick up dropped items, retrieve medications, “call” emergency services and even alert the owner to a drop in blood sugar or of an oncoming seizure.

Service dogs help many disabled individuals live a normal independent life that may not otherwise be possible. Therapy dogs are not considered service dogs under the ADA. Service dogs have the right to accompany their owners in public venues, housing and flights, but therapy dogs do not have that same right. A therapy dog is intended to work for others and must be invited to places such as schools and hospitals to work with the individuals there. You can learn more about service dog laws here

How Do I Register My Therapy Dog?

If you’re interested in owning a therapy dog and providing services for individuals and organizations, the most critical step is properly training your dog. As previously discussed, a therapy dog has to be thoroughly trained to calmly and confidently deal with strangers in a range of potentially busy environments. 

There is no universal standard for the qualification of a therapy dog. There are various organizations that provide training courses and certification programs. Many therapy dog owners choose to train their dogs by themselves. If you’re interested in working as a therapy dog handler, it’s important to understand what type of experience and qualifications the organizations and individuals you hope to work with are seeking. 

Registering your therapy dog or obtaining an identification card is completely optional and not mandatory. Many therapy dog handlers, however, obtain ID cards and register their animal in a database to help things go more smoothly on the job. Having an ID card or vest, for example, helps therapy dog handlers signal that they are at a location to work, and the therapy dog is on the premises as an invited guest to provide therapeutic support. 

In a similar way that service dog owners frequently use accessories such as ID badges, certificates, and vests to help signal to members of the public that their animals are on duty, therapy dog owners also use these items to help identify themselves and their dogs as part of a pet therapy team. 

Do I need a special letter for my Therapy Dog?

Unlike an emotional support animal, you do not need a letter of recommendation for a therapy dog. It is up to the organization or individual you are working for to determine whether they want to hire you and your therapy dog. A therapy dog works on location as an invited guest of the facility; it may not be necessary to present a letter or certification when showing up for work. 

Therapy, ESA and Service Work is For the Dogs

Whether your dog is a therapy dog, an emotional support animal, or a service canine, the work these animals do is vital in the lives of many people. Each type of dog has very different legal rights and qualification procedures, so it’s critical to understand the differences between them. No matter what type of assistance animal they are, these dogs help people live their lives with unconditional love, freedom, and independence.