What makes for a great therapy dog?

A great therapy dog...

  • Is comfortable being crowded by a group of people
  • Is people-oriented/sociable, friendly and confident
  • Will initiate contact, stay engaged, make eye contact, and allow their behaviors to be re-directed
  • Is able to cope with stressful situations
  • Knows how to respect personal boundaries; doesn’t jump up on people
  • Is non-aggressive towards animals and people
  • Is comfortable being touched, at times awkwardly
  • Is controllable, predictable and reliable
  • Is well-mannered during interactions with other animals
  • Is reliable despite distractions
  • Is able to be cued from different positions
  • Is able to disregard food or toys on cue, i.e. with a “leave it” command
  • Is comfortable around health care equipment

Dogs which have been trained to aggressively protect and/or been encouraged to bite, even if it is a component of a dog sport (e.g., Schutzhund), are not eligible.