Many people want to make a difference by volunteering with their pet in an animal assisted therapy setting, but not every animal is right for it. There are a few common traits that you should make sure your pet has before training them to be a therapy animal.
1. The dog should be calm in new environments.
A lot of animal assisted therapy includes spending time with new people while being pet or held. It is important for the animal to be comfortable in this situation, as it will help the patient to be at ease and will make the experience better for the pet, also.
2. Your dog should also be at least one year old.
For many places, there is an age requirement, and for good reason. Kittens and puppies are often overly energetic and sometimes unpredictable, which is pretty fun for a new owner who enjoys spending time with their wiggly ball of fluff, but not ideal in a hospital or hospice setting.
3. The dog should also be somewhat trained.
They need to be reliable and controllable, so that they do not scare or harm the patient they are working with. They should also not show aggression towards the patients. Petting an animal who is hissing or biting you is not a very therapeutic experience. It is important for the pet to be calm and social, as it makes the therapy better for them, their owner, and the patient.